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Take It From a Republican

Colin Dale '16, Contributor

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Recently, Donald Trump pledged to spend two million dollars per week on campaign ads. He followed through with that pledge (the advertising part of it at least) and aired his first advertisement: a thirty-second promotion in which a strange voice outlines his most controversial policies.

You can watch it for yourself on YouTube, but it really isn’t anything special.

I’m not entirely sure how other conservatives feel, but as a registered Republican faced with my first opportunity to vote in the presidential primaries/general election, I feel anxious. I’m worried that I will arrive at my local voting booth next fall and have to decide between two candidates that I genuinely dislike. I have even vowed to vote for an independent candidate if I am faced with that dilemma.

But I really, really don’t want to wind up in that situation. It’s an ugly image: I finally reach the booth after waiting for an hour, wield a pen, poise it to act on one of my most important liberties, and remember that my time has been wasted.

Let’s return to the topic of Donald Trump’s advertising efforts because they will most certainly impact the name I read on the ballot next fall. Up until now, Donald Trump hasn’t had to advertise because people, the mass media in particular, have been doing all of the grunt work for him. Turn on the news for five minutes if you have time; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Sunday morning or a Tuesday night — a story about Donald Trump will work its way into the news. Donald Trump doesn’t ask news networks to run free advertising for him; they just do it. That’s what I find scary.

Newscasters can pretend to be disgusted by his remarks but in reality they love his rhetoric and missteps. They relish the opportunity to run a story about “politics” that also comes off as outrageous.

If Mr. Trump brings anything to the table, it’s entertainment value. I admittedly laugh whenever he speaks in Republican debates. I think it’s hysterical when he walks all over Jeb Bush (poor Jeb). I don’t think his taunting is fit for a presidential debate, but I can’t help myself. What I find particularly unfortunate is that you could probably catch a newscaster or news producer thinking along the same lines. They don’t necessarily think that Donald Trump’s obnoxious behavior and rhetoric belongs in a presidential race, but they can’t help themselves either. They need ratings. They want Americans to sit down and watch their newscast. Sometimes it’s that simple.

The difference between me and broadcast journalists is that they wield more power. Without their constant stories about Mr. Trump, whether positive or negative, he at least would have spent his own money on advertising before the race was halfway over. If the mass media had demonstrated more self-control, they would have leveled the playing field for Republican candidates, but such a demonstration would not have been in their own interest. So that’s what it seems to come down to for the American media: ratings.

If you see a story about Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, Mr. Trump is benefiting. If you see a story about a joke he made at a fundraiser, he’s watching it in one of the various Trump towers and grinning. One could say that I’m being excessively cynical, but remember who wins every time a story about Donald Trump airs. I’ll give you a hint: his last name rhymes with “lump”.

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Take It From a Republican