Politics and Race

The year was 1990.  US Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was making another bid for re-election.  His opponent that year was the former Mayor of Charlotte, Harvey Gantt.  This contest would prove to be the biggest challenge to Helms in his electoral career.  With one ad, though, the fortunes for a Gantt victory were quashed.  This ad below introduced the issue of racial quotas into the Helms/Gantt election.  The ad also received plenty of national attention.

Helms would end up winning the election 52.5% to 47.5%.  Helms and Gantt met in a rematch six years later, with Helms garnering 52.6% of the vote to Gantt’s 45.9%.  In today’s political climate, candidates who run for President, US Senate, and House have to identify an ad with the phrase, “I approve this message” as an acknowledgement to the public that they paid for the ad.  This is so because of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002.  Now that candidates have to admit that they are the sponsors of the ad, do you think such an ad as the one above could exist on the air today?  (This ad, by the way, was paid for by the Helms campaign.  The poor quality of the video makes it difficult to see the written disclosure.)


17 responses to “Politics and Race

  1. In no way would an ad like this be televised on TV, the NAACP would be all over that particular campaign and more than likely do what they do best, sue.

    Sometimes candidates need to think about what effects their constituents today. They need to get feedback from people and create ads based off of that feedback. Sometimes I think candidates do more knee-jerk reaction type ads rather than think the issues out. They need to see what the ads going to get across and what they expect (the candidate) to get out of it as far as polling numbers.

  2. Thaddeus Johnson

    No I don’t think that ads like that would get on the T.V. because the candidate has to say they approve the message. Most people that wouldn’t vote for somebody if they ran these types of ads because they are trying to make there opponent look weaker then them. They stopped with these types of ads and that has leveled out the playing field for the candidates.

  3. Paul Nakielny

    Even with the disclosure ads do appear from time to time that are less than fair or outright lies. Once the ad is run it is already too late to do anything about it. Even if the ad is pulled, enough voters have seen it to make a difference in the election. The disclosure means almost nothing, the candidate just denies he knew anything about the ad, shifting the blame to his campaign team.

  4. I think this ad is great because their are a lot of people who have the expectations for the job and the skills but the name and color of that person can make everything harder I could see it playing

  5. I do not believe a candidate would air an ad like the one above knowing they would have to announce their approval of said message. In today’s progressive society, I believe the fear of appearing racist would deter any candidate from posting such ad. Unlike social issues where a candidate may take a stance and later change his or her mind, racial issues are far more sensitive and not easy to recover from once a candidate openly admits to any racial biases. A candidate would also risk losing support and disapproval of his/her own party.

  6. Wow, this ad would not only be ousted by viewers, but the man responsible for the ad would be crucified. Yeah, its a real topic but not in the political world that is for sure. The reason this man lost was because of the ad and I couldn’t agree with the results any more.

  7. The only thing I don’t like about the ad is the racial quotas. If the company doesn’t want to hire minorities, then they don’t need to, as long as they don’t discriminate. Most business aren’t in the world to be friendly or nice, they are in it to make money, the only issue. They want the best person for the job and will make them profitable. If I voted, I would have voted for Helms, so the ad would have worked in my case.

  8. Yousef Dahleh

    Yes I believe that ads like this will continue to exist. The main objective of a you on them ad is to discredit your opponent and expose them in a negative light. The ad did what it was designed to do. I believe people will continue to discredit their opponent in any way they can. Ads like this still do exist but in a much more indirect way.

  9. April Medinger

    I absolutely think that this type of ad could still air today if the official running the campaign had to say they supported it/paid for the ad. Sometimes the population actually admires and respects politicians that stand up for what is right, even though it might not always be the popular thing to say. In the case of the ad I watched above, giving someone a job based solely on their race is just plain wrong in my opinion. It would almost seem as if the law mentioned would be enacting a new form of discrimination against white people to make up for past wrongs against black people. While I agree that slavery and racism are absolutely wrong, introducing a new form of (reverse) discrimination seems that we would keep propagating the same negative beliefs or failed system that we are trying to move beyond.

  10. This ad centers on race, work, and money and there is no way a current politician would risk upsetting any member of the public with an ad that suggests taking away help for minorities. I do agree with April, that some people would admire the bravery that it would take to post such an ad, but, conversely, there would be far too many people upset with it to outweigh the positives. Even with America’s current illegal immigrant problem, there are hardly any commercials suggesting an anti-immigration viewpoint.

  11. Rob DiDomenico

    No I believe that this ad could not exist on TV today because it would bring to much racial tension. I personally agree that it should be on TV today though. We as a country will go the wrong way if we are giving jobs to people just because of the color of their skin not on their qualifications. That was an issue a long time ago and it should not be one now. Also, they should take off what nationality you are on a job application.

  12. I do not think there is any way this ad could be ran today. Too many votes would be lost for the candidate that ran it. There would also be an up roar from all supporters of the the racial quota law.

  13. There is no way this ad would be realized today just because of how fast paced our media circuit is. If this ad were to air on any TV station in America, it would be a viral hit within days, maybe even hours, and the politician that ran the ad would be outcaste as a racist. While I do believe that someone should be hired based on their quality of work and not on the color of their skin, if a politician were to run this ad or anything similar would be campaign suicide.

  14. I think this ad would be made a big issue. The candidate stands up for what he believes in in a harsher way. Knowing how society is, this would be effective in a bad way.

  15. I today’s society this add would never run. It is way to controversial and the media would be all over it. It would definitely be campaign/political suicide because some people may view it as being racist. However, I do like the add because I do feel like this topic should be discussed because it is important, and is often over looked.

  16. Sadly, I would have to say that an ad like that would not be a good idea to be televised today. Like John mentioned in his comment above, I think that if an ad like that ran today the NAACP, Jesse Jackson,(he seems to involve himself in many publicized racial issues) and other groups would be coming out of the woodwork and either sue the candidate/party for being racists or make a huge racial argument over the ad. I’m not saying that an ad like that wouldn’t get the candidate any votes come election day. It would cause a lot of negativity and bad publicity for the candidate.

  17. I do not think an ad like this would exist today because the candidate would have to say they approve this message and it is way too sensitive of a subject. A message like this could cause an outrage in the minority communities causing them to lose votes. In todays political world it is important not to offend any voters and this could seem to be offensive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s