Essay about The Role of Television in American Politics

Essay about The Role of Television in American Politics

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The invention of the television has had an impact on all aspects of American's lives. It has affected how we work, interact with others, and our foreign relations. One part of American society that it has especially affected is presidential elections. Television has impacted who is elected and why they were elected. Since the 1960's television has served as a link between the American public and presidential elections that allows the candidate to appear more human and accountable for their actions; consequently this has made television a positive influence on presidential elections. But it has also had a negative affect on elections, making presidential candidates seem like celebrities at times and making it easier to publicize mistakes made by candidates.

Television can be viewed as the medium between the public and candidate. It is the source that allows the public to know what is going on with the candidate and vice versa. As Frank Stanton, president of the Columbia Broadcasting System put it, “The sky is the limit.” Before television, candidates would travel the country, meeting voters and gaining supporters. But they were not always able to meet everyone, which hindered their process of achieving support for their campaign. With the invention of television, direct contact between the candidates and the public has been restored.

The airing of presidential debates on television is another very crucial part of the election process today. They are a chance for the public to see the candidates speak about vital current issues and their stance on political subjects. They are also a major deciding factor for voters. For example we can contrast the election between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960 and the election between Gore and Bus...


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...rivial just to attract viewers. They have digressed from debating about pressing issues in today’s world to speaking about subjects that are relatively unimportant. At points the debates have even become an arena for the candidates to criticize each other rather than the positions the other candidates hold. The ratings for the presidential debates have decreased significantly from 1960 to 1996.

Since the 1960s television has served as both a positive and negative influence on presidential elections. Television enables a greater connection between the American public and its presidential candidates; it allows candidates to appear more human in the eyes of the public and makes candidates more accountable for their actions. It has made television fairer and more accessible but has also indirectly forcing candidates to move from pursuing issues to pursuing image.

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