Monday, March 23, 2015


I don’t want to disillusion any of my readers, but most of
what they read and hear in politics is deliberate, strategic and
ongoing propaganda. That’s not all bad. This propaganda is,
after all, the language of politics, and the secret is not only
speaking the language, but knowing how to translate it.

We now enter the “announcement” season of the presidential
campaign cycle. The “propagandismo” nature of American
political language is in one of its purest forms in this season.
Debates between candidates, and the conflict between their
differing “propaganda” messages, have not yet taken place
Media and commentary analysis challenging the propaganda
is mostly ahead. Political consultants and other advisers have
carefully crafted, after much discussion and editing, the
persona, biographical “story,” and overall image of their
candidates. The political horses are lining up to get into the
starting gates. By the late autumn and early winter, we’re off
to the big race!

Not so long ago, announcing for president was a more simple
and straightforward event. Radio, TV and the internet, as
they came along,  provide expanded platforms for the formal
declaration of candidacy, but “in the old days” when a
candidate decided to get “in”, he or she simply got “in.”
Today, there are usually a series of orchestrated steps to the
actual announcement. First, there is an often extended
period of”speculation” during which a potential candidate
gives interviews, answers media questions, and makes public
speeches in which an “interest” in running for president is
made of “hints,” “maybes,” and “possibles.” Then there is an
announcement of the formation of an “exploratory committee”
which propels a candidate into fundraising and more specific
testing of the political waters. Finally, there is the formal
announcement itself. Sometimes, a candidate only goes through
step 1, or steps 1 and 2. We are now, in most cases, ready for
those who will take step 3.

For the 2016 cycle, each major political party will have its own
schedule of announcements. Senator Ted Cruz has just become
the first to formally announce on the Republican, He will be
followed soon enough by a number of others, including
predetermined major candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and
Scott Walker. Most of those who will go to step 3 have already
formed exploratory committees. There is likely to be one or
two surprise or late entries (like Texas Governor Rick Perry
was in 2012). On the Democratic side, the party and its
potential candidates are awaiting the formal announcement
of Hillary Clinton, reportedly set for April. Should she decide
not to run, the number of formal candidates would likely
increase dramatically. If she does announce, there will still
be rivals in the race, most notably now former Maryland
Governor Martin O’Malley, and possibly, Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren. Since a Democratic field without
Clinton would be considered a relatively light one, the chance
for surprise candidacies in that case would be high.

But no matter who, how many, and in which major party, the
basic form of the announcement for president will most
likely take similar forms. As I suggested at the outset, these
announcements will attempt to control the narrative of
the candidacy, and will be laden with propaganda.

The fresher and more original campaign launches,
however, will gain at least some initial advantages. It will
be instructive to observe which campaigns have figured
this out.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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