Political Ads in a Theocracy

It’s likely you have already seen this latest ad from the McCain campaign. It seeks to vilify Obama by playing on Christians’ fear of “The Antichrist.” A smidgen of reasonable deniability is inserted by the closing question, “Is he ready to lead?” — allowing one to argue that the ad is about experince, you know, like the kind of experience Moses had when he lead the Jews out of Egypt. Laced as this ad is in religious language — “blessed,” “anointed,” “see the light” — it is a clear entanglement of politics, religion, and one of religion’s greatest allies, fear. 

This ad seeks to create the perception of an arrogance so extreme, so hubristic, it can only be rendered in terms of divinity. You may share this perception or you may not, but the intentional and flagrant co-mingling of political and religious themes will say much more about our society if it is effective than if it is not.

11 Responses

  1. yeah, my mom has already tried this one on me. the antichrist is supposed to be a really eloquent speaker…wow, it must be Obama. really, what president hasn’t been called the antichrist at some point? Bush, Reagan, Jimmy Carter??? maybe not Clinton, would the devil’s son be a hillbilly? unfortunately this is where movies and comics have a negative effect on American’s psyche…the ultimate evil and blazing hero are begged to be exposed. really, next to McCain, i look more eloquent(which says a lot!)

  2. It may say a lot about our society, but exactly does it say? Does it say that we’re a Christian theocracy, or does it say we’re a secular society with a fear and loathing of religion?

    Commingling religion with a political figure could cause fear in the atheists as well as fear in the religious.

    Hmmm….

    For myself, I loved the ad. It accurately portrayed the “Obama Phenomenon.” He is worshiped by many of his followers as something quite close to a divinity. I’m not sure that is because of Obama’s arrogance though and how much can a symbol be blamed for the actions and attitudes of its followers? I just don’t know.

  3. Are you sure about people “worshipping” Obama — or is that simply what you are being told by those entrenched in opposition? Also, latest polls show the electorate nearly split, how can you call that a “Phenomenon”?

  4. I’m pretty sure that what Obama’s followers is doing can be safely classed as worship. Their behavior has all the signs of religious zealotry. I formed that opinion on my own, long before McCain and his supporters started harping on it.

    Of course one should remember that I’m commenting on his “followers” which are – an albeit large – subset of his supporters. I’m neither commenting on his other supporters nor on Obama himself. The former cover the gamut of reasons, rationales and behaviors, and the latter is something of a cypher – as is to be expected of any politician seeking high office.

    I call it a phenomenon because that is the only way I can describe Obama’s popularity with the media and the public.

  5. Hmmm… we may have to simply disagree on this “worship” thing…

    In any case, the use of religious imagery and prejudices to shill for votes is as distasteful to me as (I believe) dangerous to a state whose laws are not, at least in principle, dictated by particular religious views.

  6. That’s the problem though, isn’t it? That it’s only “in principle”. This ad seems to rely on the viewers inability to separate the politics from religion, which is the rule and not the exception. I find it a bit odd though because it uses this positive imagery of being anointed and blessed and merely asks you to ask yourself “is he ready to lead”. It seems to me to mimic the debate of the goodness of Jesus we once had in a philosophy class waaaaay back. The premise being that if you believe Jesus was the son of God then you believe is he good man, but if you do not believe he was the son of God but that his teachings were good; therefore, he is good man…well, how can a crazy liar be a good man? So if Baris blessed and sees the light and all this b.s. then you may say Obama is ready. But if he is not “ready”, then how can he be these things?

    Maybe not the point y’all are discussing…but oh well.

  7. insert “he is” for Baris, not sure wtf that’s about…

  8. “He is worshiped by many of his followers as something quite close to a divinity.”

    Whoa, dude. Gonna have to ask you for some backup for your statement.

    “I’m pretty sure that what Obama’s followers is doing can be safely classed as worship.”

    Okay, cool. Now, which classification system are we using for this? I mean, it’s nice that you’re pretty sure and all, but if we’re classifying things, we should all be working from the same set of information, right?

    “Their behavior has all the signs of religious zealotry.”

    Awesome! Now we’re getting somewhere… What are these signs? Which Master List of Signs of Religious Zealotry are you referring to here?

    “I formed that opinion on my own, long before McCain and his supporters started harping on it.”

    So… Wait a minute! You’re just making this up? You have broken my heart. You made yourself sound so knowledgeable… Like an Obamaism expert.

  9. Yeiser,

    Just surf the blogs and the media and pay attention the way Obama supporters respond to any negative comment about him. I’ve seen identical levels of reaction from Christian Fundamentalists when “Old J.C.” was questioned.

    Again I say that I’m discussing a subset of the Obama supporters, not all of them in general and not Obama himself.

  10. Since I’m clueless can I ask what this Obama Phenomenon is? I thought all this was pretty standard, you run for office and get voted for or against. Some people love you, more people hate you. Is it a phenomenon because he was considered a smaller fish but won over bigger fishies? Is it a phenomenon because he’s idealistic and those who believe in this utopia he speaks of believe he can bring it? I guess you could say I’ve removed myself from the media so I really don’t get it.

  11. Yeah, good question. I’ve certainly seen people that support Obama — and people who are vehemetly against him. I can’t say that the people who support him “support him more that normal”… and I don’t think he is even presenting “utopian” ideas…

    He is young and has attracted young and vocal support. I think we are seeing a riffing on that theme… that he is too young and inexperienced… the pushing it into the theological is just a dirty tactic…

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