You might have heard about the new pro-Obama ad that, as Newsbusters reports, features “children singing about a variety of horrors including an America – supposedly under President Romney – where ‘sick people just die’ and ‘oil fills the sea.’”
It reminds Noel Sheppard of LBJ’s infamous “Daisy” ad, but I think there are more noble examples.
The notion of shamelessly exploiting children for partisan political gain is unseemly — and this ad certainly pushes the boundaries. But I can think of some other great leaders who have used this same general idea to persuade and inspire.
During Ronald Reagan’s remarks at the 1976 Republican Convention, he mentioned that someone asked him to write a letter to be put in a time capsule and then opened 100 years later, during America’s Tricentennial.
Reagan then added:
“And suddenly it dawned on me, those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we met our challenge. Whether they have the freedoms that we have known up until now will depend on what we do here. Will they look back with appreciation and say, ‘Thank God for those people in 1976 who headed off that loss of freedom, who kept us now 100 years later free, who kept our world from nuclear destruction?’ And if we failed, they probably won’t get to read the letter at all because it spoke of individual freedom, and they won’t be allowed to talk of that or read of it.”
General George S. Patton, never one for mincing words, tapped into this theme in his most famous speech: “Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, What did you do in the great World War Two? You won’t have to say, Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana,” Patton told his troops.
The concept for the pro-Obama ad is frighteningly brilliant. Who can blame people for wanting the best for their children?
What is more, shame works as a motivator — and regret avoidance is probably an underrated force.
If an ad can persuade some voters that their children or grandchildren will be ashamed of them for bucking the zeitgeist, that could have an impact.
Fortunately — as is often the case with liberal elites — the people who created the ad seem a bit out-of-touch. So while the idea is a powerful one, the execution seems too blatant and transparent to be effective.