Commentary

It’s campaign season: GOP ads assault the airwaves and insult our intelligence | Ray E. Landis

The real threat to the health of Pennsylvania is if voters fail see through the messages that emphasize a selfish approach to governing and do not elect candidates who make the continued progress of all our citizens their priority

February 27, 2022 7:08 am

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I spend an unhealthy amount of time watching commercial television and scrolling through Twitter. Amidst all the advertisements for prescription drugs and sports gambling websites, however, are revealing insights into the mind-sets of current statewide political candidates that those who use streaming services and refuse to follow anyone who disagrees with their worldview might be missing.

If Pennsylvanians don’t want to wake up in January 2023 with a government dedicated to dismantling state services, enriching the elite, and solidifying one-party rule in the Commonwealth, they need to pay attention to what Republicans running for the U.S. Senate and Governor are saying to their hard-core supporters right now.

The financial managers at television stations across Pennsylvania may be the only ones happy about the flood of political advertisements airing throughout the state. Independently wealthy U.S. Senate candidates David McCormick and Mehmet Oz have saturated the airwaves with commercials that seek to establish each as the frontrunner in the primary race. After an early wave of introductory ads, both candidates have now shifted their focus to attacking the other.

The attacks are designed to appeal to the most regressive Republican voters, as each candidate questions the other’s loyalty to Donald Trump and attempts to malign China, immigrants, and liberals, not necessarily in that order.

But the messages of the Senate candidates seem almost quaint in comparison to ads being run by former Delaware County council member and gubernatorial candidate Dave White. White’s commercials focus on the hot-button issues that appeal to the most avid Trump-supporters – voting restrictions, critical race theory, and auditing the 2020 Presidential election. He has utilized $3 million of his personal fortune to fund his campaign and ends his latest commercial by telling voters we need to teach our children the things that have made “Amurrica” great.

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Of course, television ads pale in comparison to what ends up on social media. Although today’s campaign commercials may seem outlandish, what gets shared on the internet is more ominous because there are fewer filters to restrain the true feelings of those who share their thoughts.

I engaged in a back-and-forth conversation on Twitter about the priorities of the GOP with a Western Pennsylvania local elected official last week which ended with the Republican snarkily stating “Really it’s just about freedom. You manage your life, and we’ll manage ours.”

If Pennsylvanians don’t want to wake up in January 2023 with a government dedicated to dismantling state services, enriching the elite, and solidifying one-party rule in the Commonwealth, they need to pay attention to what Republicans running for the U.S. Senate and Governor are saying to their hard-core supporters right now.

Beyond being reminiscent of statements made by slaveowners in the 1850s and segregationists in the 1950s, such an attitude is a window to the approach of far too many Pennsylvanians in 2022. The word “freedom” has become synonymous with the word “selfish” for this group.

The “freedom” to not wear masks, the “freedom” to own assault weapons, and the “freedom” to ignore the needs of those with fewer resources are not freedoms that benefit society as a whole. Instead, they gratify the individual at the expense of the greater population.

But as we experience change and continue to progress, the prevalence of such selfishness threatens our ability to grow as a nation and a commonwealth.  For instance, we face a daunting demographic challenge as our population ages.

Unfortunately, even our most successful programs to help older people – Medicare at the federal level and various programs like PACE and PACENET and property tax rebates at the state level – have been compromised because of the opposition of regressive politicians. The increasing privatization of Medicare and the reliance on funding for state programs on the desire of lottery players to hit a big jackpot demonstrate a refusal to understand and address the needs of the older population.

In addition, two core principles which have contributed to the progress of the United States and hold a key to our future progress continue to be under attack by selfish interests – public education and immigration. We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation with elements that have fought against immigration for our entire history.

Now, as we face labor shortages and an aging population, the need for immigrants is high, but the barriers we have in place against immigration are not only immoral but are against the best interests of the United States as a whole.

Meanwhile, public education has been the way for hard-working Americans to better their lives and the lives of future generations.

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Public education means children from all backgrounds not only learn about academic subject matter, but how to interact with others. But as more Pennsylvanians turn to charter schools and home schooling, an important social element is lost – and the greater the focus becomes on individual desires instead of the needs of their community.

It is still many months until November, and the number of political advertisements and over-the-top Twitter posts yet to come will continue to increase my blood pressure.

But the real threat to the health of Pennsylvania is if voters fail see through the messages that emphasize a selfish approach to governing and do not elect candidates who make the continued progress of all our citizens their priority.

Opinion contributor Ray E. Landis writes about the issues that matter to older Pennsylvanians. His work appears biweekly on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may follow him on Twitter @RELandis

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Ray Landis
Ray Landis

A former spokesman for the Pennsylvania AARP, Ray E. Landis writes about the issues that matter to older Pennsylvanians. His work appears biweekly on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may follow him on Twitter @RELandis.

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