Topic 4


Read the following source. Then, in an essay, take a position that defends, challenges, or qualifies the claim that television has had a positive impact on presidential elections.  (200 words)

ARTICLE:  TV influences Elections

Television has been widely popular in the United States since its invention in the 1960s. It has been a common household item for about 50 years, bringing our nation closer together through instantaneous information of what is happening here and throughout the world. This single device brings thousands of topics and ideas to one’s fingertips creating a “smaller world”. Although television causes elections to be more accessible, this increased accessibility has negatively influenced presidential elections since the 1960s by succumbing the candidates to the same scrutiny given to pursue images over issues in order to appeal to a public dominated by materialistic views.

Common in popular magazines and reality television shows of today symbolize what appeals to most Americans of voting age. Frequent TV shows portraying small, fit models with bodies and outfits most desirable to many Americans projects the presidential candidates through the same media. Logically speaking, subconsciously the minds that are accustomed to viewing a perfect world on the “boob tube” expect and/or desire the TV world reflected in their own lives. The frankness and loose censoring on TV is also applicable to TV shows showing the candidates. This proves a problem that Source B indicated with Clinton’s frankness toward his private undergarments as a spark of humor. Although inappropriate for the role he desired to achieve, he appealed to majority of Americans with this uneducated and loose action. The majority positive reaction to Clinton’s outburst illustrates how “all texts – serious and sophomoric – swirl together…” in television. The diversity combined through television creates a new world where boundaries are eradicated creating overlapping of cultures in to different shows. This can be seen in children television show Power Rangers that solve all of their problems through violence, subconsciously planting that detrimental action in the minds of the children. E.B. White’s Once More to the Lake illustrates how images play a major role in one’s memory by influencing emotions, thoughts, and decisions which in turn explains why the same criteria applied to a common reality TV show is also applied to presidential debates on the TV.

Television is an extremely useful invention in that its stream of knowledge of current events occurring live. While I maintain that Dr. Stanton is correct in Source A when he dictates that television has restored the direct contact we lost from our nation expanding, he fails to mention how we have mentally changed as well in that we are more materialistic and how that has a negative influence on our thought process. Dr. Stanton is also biased in his opinion since he is the president of the Columbia Broadcasting System. Some people also claim that elections are fairer on TV. This is thwarted by the fact that commercials are funded to support the candidate and the political machine with the least amount of funds will be at a disadvantage.

TV is very inept in its ability to spread info quickly. This does allow people to immediately know of any positive moves or blunders a candidate makes. Source C reiterates this importance to the people as televised debates are seen as necessary today and there would be a great upset without one, as the questions and answers made by the candidates may influence one’s choice on voting. However, these televised debates also allow a focus on image. White in Source C outlines this in the fact that radio listeners have differing opinions of candidates versus the opinions of those that viewed the debate on TV.

Television does make the presidential candidates more available to the people. Unfortunately, majority of these people are too well trained in what our nation wants rather than what our nation needs. This causes miscommunication between the people and the government by the people believing that the government is supposed to be as up to date as the new pop singer on a rising TV show. Our government should add improvement to our education system to include varying backgrounds and situations so that the majority may learn to differentiate between the types of critiques appropriate for differing popular positions. This would allow and force our presidential candidates to pursue issues over images.


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