Some of the biggest clients in my former ad agency were politicians, mainly state governments and city councils. They were the ones who helped me the most to become disheartened with what I was doing and drop out of everything. And for that, I am grateful. I may still be there if it wasn’t for them. More than once, I’ve seen those clients spend more money to promote what they were doing than to solve the problems. Looking like they were working was often more important than improving people’s lives.
Like everything else, except Legos pieces, political communication may be divided into two parts. One is better known, the other not so much. The most notable part of the work is to make those politicians appear more competent than they really are and whose interest is aligned with the population. People want to vote for those who seem to want to help them and who have the competence to do so. This work is done by advertising agencies like mine, video producing companies, and PR companies.
The other marketing service that the political class requires is to make people believe that things will get better if the right candidate wins the next election. It’s to make people believe that the main important dispute is between the right and left-wing.
But the truth is that this dichotomy was once relevant but no longer is the main one. Today the real dispute is between a small minority formed by wealthy people who have power over the rest of the population and the vast majority who have none or almost no power.
The reality is that whether the candidates from the right or the left win the next elections, nothing significant will change in the lives of the vast majority of people. As it has not changed in recent decades. This is because these two sides are elected with money received by those extremely rich, so their main assignment is to keep things mostly as they are.
As a greedy son-of-bitch, I’ve worked for both sides of the political spectrum. Whoever was paying me more. The guy on the right will say that he wants to give people more freedom, grow the economy, and stop the country from turning to socialism. But he knows well the country is already socialist for the rich as the government takes money from the poor through taxes to help companies with fiscal benefits and bailouts. The country is only capitalist for the impoverished that have to endure a government that tolerates companies to pay low salaries. The guy knows that when the economy grows, it does not go to the poor’s pocket.
The candidate on the left will say to you that he wants to be elected so he can better redistribute wealth, but it’s also a lie. And he knows that. He or guys from his party have been elected before, but the gap between rich and poor has only increased during their watch.
Although the politicians want to be elected, the dispute between left and right is mostly like a wrestling show – it’s fake. It’s only about their personal power, not about different political ideas.
By now, most people may be thinking that I’m wrong. That makes a difference if their candidate or party wins. But I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m saying worse. I’m saying the difference it makes is negligible compared to what they could do if improving people’s lives were their priority. But it is not. Their priority is not to tamper with anything structural in the system that got them elected.
To really improve the lives of the population would require altering the allocation of power, and the job of the politicians is precisely to avoid these big changes. This happens because big corporations owned by wealthy individuals need poor people that tolerate leaving their families almost every day for years to do boring stuff. And they can only get this cheap and intensive labor if the majority of the population is poor or, in the case of the middle-class, afraid to become poor. That’s the reason why politicians have the means but choose not to eliminate poverty with actions such as Universal Basic Income or many others: poor people are essential to large companies getting cheap labor. And large companies are the ones donating money to the candidates.
Although advertising agencies like mine, video producing companies, and PR companies work to put up the facade of the electoral debate, the most significant role in making the population believe that the right/left dispute is the more relevant one is the done by the press. The journalists who work for corporate media are the ones dutifully hiding that the actual conflict is between those who have power and money and those who don’t have and would like to see some change in the current system. The work of these journalists is to pretend that there is a real dispute, that we are in a democracy, and that people’s opinions and desires matter. But the truth is that we live today in an oligarchy, where we are governed by the will of the few very rich who buy elections and politicians through campaign donations, lobbying, bribery, or a combination of the three. As the saying goes, journalism’s job is to cover the important issues, with a pillow, until it stops moving. And they do it.
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