It’s that time of year again. Halloween is over and November is here, which means its voting season! And if you’re like me you’re nearly scratching your eyes out over the debates which actually feels more like watching a bad reality show. Did you miss any of the debates? Well don’t worry because Kimmel, Fallon, and Saturday Night Live have you covered with a hilarious re-cap if you need it. But let’s ask ourselves an important question. One that effects almost everyone. Does the media influence how voters vote in the election? Well there are certainly factors that suggest that the media plays an ever-increasing role in presidential elections. One of the first most obvious incidences occurred in the election of 1960, which was the first time television played such a major role. President Kennedy appealed more to television audiences based on his looks compared to then-Vice President Richard Nixon, who was said to look uncomfortable and, therefore, not as confident. Now that most candidates prepare themselves for television appearances, that problem is not as significant. News reporting, however, has become less objective. Whole networks are dedicated to more conservative OR more liberal biases. Even networks that wish to appear objective don’t always succeed. Newspapers and magazines endorse particular candidates, and their reporting often favors them. At least to a degree. The pictures used, the questions asked, and the stories chosen all play a role in affecting the way a candidate looks to the American public. What we know about him or her is what we hear, see or read in the media. While I admit that media plays a major role in keeping us citizens up-to-date on many current events and raising awareness of various issues in any society, it also has an extremely significant impact on the public’s views and way of thinking. The media is the primary means through which public opinion is shaped and at times manipulated. They also choose what we see and what we don’t, sometimes even distracting us from harsher realities. In the current election, they attempt to draw the audience in with wild headlines. On the internet, this is a little trick called “click bait.” For example, when Trump gave a powerful speech on how he will make America great again, many news sources took one minor statement Trump said among many to turn into a bigger and better story, with a headline like, “Trump threatens to sue women who accuse him…” With a captivating headline like that, more viewers are likely to click on the link and read more. But alas, no matter who the candidate is, the media uses anything even slightly juicy to create a more interesting story.
Aside from what the media says about our candidates, many good politicians have learned that they can succeed in getting elected and in getting things done using media as a direct source. That is, IF they know how to use the media. President Franklin Roosevelt was famous for his “fireside chats,” in which he soothed the pain of economic depression and war by talking to citizens over the radio. Likewise, President Ronald Reagan’s skills as a film and television actor enabled him to communicate very effectively with American voters. Additionally, government officials and candidates for office carefully stage media events and photo opportunities. Critics believe that too much attention is focused on how politicians look and come across on camera, rather than on how well of a job they are doing in public service. Thus while politicians perform on camera to appeal to the public, media outlets also paint a picture for their audience in a sometimes biased fashion.
Since News stations aren’t going anywhere, I urge you to think for yourself and avoid listening to the opinions of media outlets that might have a hidden agenda. Look at all candidates during election time and the pros and cons of each. Read both viewpoints on provided pamphlets that explain the various propositions. And when watching the news or any media, be aware of the political perspective of the sources used because the media over-relies on “official” (government, corporate and establishment think tank) sources. And as my pastor said in church today, when we fear the future of our nation because of who may become president more than we fear God, that is a huge issue. As Christ followers, we are supposed to fear Him. We should pray about who and what we vote for, and continue to pray after the new President is named. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the power of prayer and our awareness of how the media invades our thoughts and opinions is one of the best things we can do.
Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. 1 Peter 2:13-17
Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear. Romans 13:1-3