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The Evolution of Political Parties

Adkin’s book lays forth a plethora of primary sources from historic political events from the late seventeen-hundreds to 2007. While it is easy to find secondary accounts of historical events, these accounts are sometimes biased and misleading. In order to truly understand how political campaigns, elections and satire have evolved, it is necessary to delve through real pieces of history. Adkins has compiled speeches, legislation, photographs from documentaries, letters, opinion polls and other media to create an invaluable resource that will help put yesterday’s political action into context.

Adkin’s collection is full of some of the most effective political advertisements and satire, as well. He presents many of the cartoons of Thomas Nast, who helped expose Boss Tweed, along with “The daisy” ad from the 1960’s, which was used to persuade Americans to support war efforts. Adkins also shows how media campaigns have evolved. Historically, members of opposing parties were very much opposed to one another. Today, politicians make deals and agree on rules by which to run their visual campaigns. Adkins shows correspondence between Jon Kerry and George Bush, showing how the two agreed to conduct their business.

This sort of softness may have opened the door to more biting political satire from third-parties. Colbert, Stephen. (2007). I am America and So Can You . New York: Grand Central Publishing. Stephen Colbert was one of the most-watched political satirists in the nation during the 2008 election season. His book, like his TV show, takes on political enemies from terrorists and environmentalists to Hollywood and Kashi. Colbert writes satirically from the viewpoint of an uninformed conservative. He pokes fun at stereotypes, pretending to be homophobic, racist and unscientific.

He says that the elderly are too coddled, showing the liberal perception of conservative arguments against increased Medicare benefits or social security programs. Colbert’s book is valuable because it exposes the stereotypes of both the right and the left. It also shows the sort of satire that the public was exposed through throughout the election cycle. It is, perhaps, easy to see why Barak Obama won the election, when comedians like Colbert paint a picture of conservatives that makes them look uncaring, arrogant and uninformed.

Colbert’s book is a New York Times #1 best-seller, with positive reviews from both liberals and conservatives. Colbert himself was invited to speak at The White House in 2006. He is one of the few political satirists with a regular show. Colbert’s book is especially relevant to the 2008 election. While he praises McCain for being a maverick, he “welcomes him back into the Republican fold,” thereby, reminding Republicans that McCain is not always loyal to them. Crew, C. C. (Director). (2008). Comedy Central Salutes George W. Bush [Motion Picture].

One of McCain’s biggest problems was trying to overcome the public’s abhorrence of George W. Bush. The former president’s popularity had tanked before the election. His approval rating was 38% just before he left office. One of the groups responsible for the president’s bad image was comedy central, which loved to highlight the faux pas of America’s Commander in Chief. Comedy Central’s salute to George Bush is a collection of clips poking fun at the former president. It calls him an “amazing source of comedy. ” This is not a show of respect. Instead, it shows the light the media and the public saw Bush in.

Featuring cartoons like South Park and Lil’ Bush, as well as the jokes of stand-up comedians – this is a visual picture of the satirical criticism the president faced. It also shows what John McCain was up against. For instance, it features sketches where “Bush” goes to Iraq to find something for his Dad for father’s day. This collection also provides some insight on why many who did not particularly care for McCain voted for him. One of the sketches, for instance, features an aborted fetus puppet, which would probably turn off pro-life watchers. These might be less likely to be swayed by Comedy Central’s other shows.

Dover, E. (1994). Presidential Elections in the Television Age: 1960-1992 . Santa Barbra: Praeger Publishers . Dover’s book shows how elections have evolved since the adoption of the television. Although it only covers the era from 1960 to 1992, Dover’s book is a good source of history and analysis. In it, Dover examines television’s influence on presidential politics. He claims that the results of elections since the 1960s have been greatly influenced by television reporting and commentary. Dover focuses particularly on patterns of television coverage and corresponding political events.

He shows how television has strengthened the campaigns of some weak candidates, while undermining the campaigns of those who would have, otherwise, stood a greater chance of winning. Dover, who is a Political Science professor at Western Oregon University, is an authoritative source, who will give credence to political documentaries that make use of his work. Indeed, his work is used by upper-division political science classes around the country. Dover provides both qualitative and quantitative evidence to show that television’s impact on politics is substantial.

He also provides a description of the changes in elections brought forth by media coverage. His focus on academic results is a good balance to the comedic material of Colbert, Stewart and Comedy Central. Gawiser, S. (2009). How Barack Obama Won: A State-by-State Guide to the Historic 2008 Presidential Election. New York: Vintage Books. While Gawiser’s book is not entirely devoted to political satire, it provides an explanation of why Barak Obama beet John McCain in the 2008 election. Gawiser, a political journalist, goes state by state to uncover the reasoning behind constituent’s votes.

It features interviews, demographics and messages from political leaders like Chuck Dodd. Gawiser focuses particularly on “battleground states” and close calls. Gawiser also provides statistics like age, sex, race, party, religion, education, income and city size of constituents. He describes the issues that are of import to the different groups. Gawiser discusses issues such as the environment, the economy and the war in Iraq. He also compares his figures to those in the previous presidential election. Gawiser also talks about the effect of citizen’s abhorrence of former President Bush on the 2008 election.

Gawiser is a valuable source, because he heads NBC’s election news segments. He is responsible for making political projections for the network and is a recognized pollster. Although his work is not unbiased, it is less biased than most, and it is full of facts and figures that are relevant to any examination of the 2008 elections. Grabe, M. E. , & Bucy, E. P. (2009). Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (Series in Political Psychology) . New York: Oxford University Press. In this volume, Grabe and Bucy examine the visual presence of political candidates and connect it with public opinion polls.

It evaluates candidates, using material from disciplines ranging from political science and psychology to biology, neuroscience and media studies. Grabe and Bucy conclude that visual images of presidents affect public opinion more than sound bites. This speaks to the importance of satirical TV shows, and makes them more powerful than radio satire in political races. Because conservatives are more prominent in radio than in television, while many political shows slant left, this may have helped Obama triumph over McCain in the 2008 election.

Grabe and Bucy’s work is significant because of its thorough history, deep analysis and serious treatment television’s effect on the voting public. It takes into account, not only television’s affect on human reasoning, but also on human emotion. Indeed, Grabe’s work shows that shows like Stephen Colbert’s evoke emotions in their viewers that can significantly affect the outcome of elections. This volume is especially helpful in analyzing the effects of visual presentation on the 2008 election. For instance, it discusses the effect of pictures of Obama dressed in Muslim garb and Hillary Clinton’s camera emotional breakdown on camera.

Holt, J. (2007). The Daily Show and Philosophy: Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News . Malden: Blackwell Publishing. Jason Holt’s book shows the strategy and philosophy behind the fake news of The Daily Show and The Colbert report. It is a critique of the real news media, a criticism of partisan politics and a discussion of the goals of today’s satirical political shows. According to Holt, one of the goals of the Daily Show is to “unmask the experts. ” The effect of this, says Holt, has been significant.

He cites one study that showed that viewers of The Daily show had a more in-depth understanding of the players and events in the 2004 elections than people who merely read newspapers and watched standard television news. Holt compares Stewart’s method to the Socratic Method, noting that both Stewart and Socrates seek out “experts” in particular fields, lure them in with flattery, and then proceed to question them until they make fools of themselves. Holt’s intention in making this claim is to show that, while The Daily show is comedic, it serves a higher purpose. That purpose is exposing lies and bringing out the truth.

Clearly, this affected voters in the 2004 elections and it may have had a role in the 2008 election cycle as well. Michaels, L. (Producer), King, D. R. , McCarthy-Miller, B. , Miller, P. , & Wilson, D. (Directors). (2008). Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash ’08 [Motion Picture]. NBC. This film highlights some of the most potent Saturday Night Live clips related to the 2008 election. It features real performances by John McCain and Sarah Palin, poking fun at themselves and their opponents, and actors portraying Joe Biden, Barak Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

This is a good primary source, showing how satirical political shows operate and what their effect on the viewing public is. It is interesting that, while Sarah Palin and John McCain appeared on the show and Obama did not, Obama won the election. Perhaps, then, poking fun at one’s self on a political show is not the way to get elected. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Saturday Night Live clips is that they are live. This makes it possible for viewers to observe the audience’s reaction, and to understand which bits get positive reactions and which fail to evoke anything.

Sarah Palin’s jokes, for instance, failed to illicit much of a response from the crowd. Meanwhile, the skit that featured actors portraying Chris Matthews and President Obama met with laughter. Part of the problem with Palin’s speech might have been the material. Palin jokes about revoking NBC’s license, which challenges fundamental freedoms. Letting herself be portrayed in such a light may have hurt Palin’s image in the election. The exchange with Chris Matthews and Obama focused on lighter issues, which may have made the public more comfortable with Obama as a president.

The reactions of the audience are certainly worth deeper analysis. Moore, M. (2008). Mike’s Election Guide 2008. Grand Central Publishing: New York. Michael Moore is world famous for his social and political statements and documentaries. This book is a collection of satirical and sarcastic essays, critiquing John McCain and pushing for the acceptance of Barak Obama. Moore’s opinions are shared by many in Hollywood and this book presents the ideas and opinions of many anti-McCain satirists. Moore questions why no one in the media talks about what McCain did to the Vietnamese.

He suggests changing the pledge of allegiance to leave God out of it, saying that, if God wants to bless America, he will and that the decision should be left up to him. Moore also points out that TV is dead. Other than shows like The Office, he says, the programming is terrible. Moore points out that younger generations are turning away from the TV and toward the Internet. This shows how political satire is evolving. It started with television shows, but as television shows are becoming less interesting, people are turning to internet-based shows like The Onion for their information.

Moore applauds this move towards was he sees is an egalitarian medium. Moore’s book is a good example of satire in itself. He makes fun of the President’s message of encouragement after 9/11, in which he told the American people to go shopping, so that the terrorists would not win. Moore presents the cases of people who have rung up debt by “spending money they never had” on the advice of a president who spent money he never had. ” Silverman, A. , Stewart, J. (Producers), & O’Neil, C. (Director). (2008). Indecision 2008: Election Night – America’s Choice [Motion Picture].

This film shows the combined efforts of John Stewart, Stephen Colbert as they cover Election Day 2008. Most of the film features John Stewart and his audience cheering over Barak Obama’s wins, and Stephen Colbert looking glum, while making excuses. Colbert, for instance, sulks as Obama picks up five states. Then, when McCain wins South Carolina, Colbert declares that South Carolina is a bonus state that triples a candidate’s electorates. Stewart just smirks. What is telling here is the audience’s reaction to Obama’s wins. Every time Obama wins a state, the audience cheers exuberantly. This is not the case when McCain wins.

Perhaps this is because Stewart’s fans are predominantly Democrat, or because more Democrats happened to be in attendance at the time or perhaps Stewart’s own support of Obama is pressure enough for the audience to cheer for the Democrat. Either way, Stewart’s comments, Colbert’s performance and the audience’s reaction seem connected. Interestingly enough, according to Colbert, Indecision 2008 was Comedy Central’s highest rated, as well as its most watched election special ever. According to Colbert it had over 3 million viewers. Clearly, then, there was something attractive to the public about a Democrat smiling as a conservative lost.

Perhaps it satisfied the public’s desire for a change in the White House, and the show was merely an outlet through which they could see such change. Or perhaps the show, itself, inspired its audience to want such a change. Peterson, R. (2008). Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy Turns Democracy into a Joke . Piscataway: Rutgers University. In this volume, Russell Leslie Peterson argues that the shows of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert dumb down political discussions and increase apathy. He also says that it shuts out valid views in political discourse. Peterson points out that, according to polls, ?

of the American people get their news from political comedy shows. Comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, he says, are the sole source of political news for some. Peterson claims that these comedians have usurped the role of legitimate reporters and journalists, and are threatening American democracy. Polls like the Pew survey have contributed to this usurpation by listing comedy shows and hard news shows side by side, says Peterson. Peterson shows that younger Americans often find traditional news stories boring. One young woman described CNN’s coverage as exactly that – uninteresting and dull.

Her news source, Peterson points out, is The Daily Show. Strange Bedfellows also shows how comedic takes on the news have evolved from separate entities into combined news and entertainment. Peterson analyses the effect of comedians from The Smothers Brothers to David Lettermen. He condemns those whose comedy is written from a cynical view, rather than a desire to improve politics. Stewart, J. (2006). America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction . New York: Grand Central Publishing. This book shows Jon Stewart’s humor and lends evidence to both the claims of Peterson and Holt.

As Holt claims, Stewart calls into question the values of the Status Quo. He also criticizes The West Wing’s depiction of politics, calling it, “total bullshit. ” He also takes men like Bill O’Reilly to task and instructs his readers on how to create their own “no spin zones. ”Yet, as Peterson shows, Stewart also undermines America’s Democracy. Stewart calls The American president the king of Democracy. He says that hearing how great Ben Franklin was can make a person sick. He combines comments about how rotundas are great with explanations of communist regimes. In one chapter he mentions both The Supreme Court and pornography.

Indeed, he talks about seeing Supreme Court Justices nude. He frivolously instructs his readers on how to use a gavel, while discussing the desegregation of schools. As Peterson says, he makes the line between news and entertainment virtually non-existent. Towery, M. (2008). Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency . Athens: Hill Street Press. This book is a behind-the scenes look at the 2008 elections. It looks beyond Barak Obama and John McCain and examines the figures behind them, as well as the politics behind their race. He claims that the race itself was less important than many believed.

If Towery’s theory is right, learning how the media’s influence on the views of the real power players in presidential politics might be helpful. Towery also discusses the reasons many people have grown disillusioned with politics and claims that Americans believe that they have been left behind by politicians who only seek to make themselves richer and benefit large corporations. He points to how elected officials ignored immigration issues and lead America into its current financial crisis. Towery also takes aim at the media, blaming it for helping create the Status Quo.

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