With midterm elections just around the corner, I thought it be fitting to take a look at one of the most influential campaign advertisements of all time–the 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson daisy ad. The ad was designed to attack Barry Goldwater’s comments about nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Was it effective? Many would argue, yes. There’s no denying, however, that it was shocking and it completely revolutionized political campaign advertisements.
Often times, we are confronted with a GIANT either/or fallacy: if you don’t support “Candidate X,” then the entire world will fall apart. LBJ’s ad may have used an either/or fallacy, but I don’t think it was merely an attack ad–it was a social commentary. It presented a vital issue in a rather artistic way, while provoking conversation. LBJ’s press team did not have the luxury (or some would argue, curse) of new media. There was no way to stir up conversations on twitter or through blogging. Facebook and sophisticated campaign Web sites did not exist. It was this ad–this single piece of persuasion that created a dialogue among Americans.
So I wonder…do political campaign ads have the same effect on us today?