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TV s Effect on the Political ProcessThe introduction of television and its components into the political process has greatly influenced politics. Television has given politicians a whole new way to communicate and express their beliefs to voters. There are a few significant effects that this form of media has had on the political process.Firstly, television tends to make political life more fluid and volatile. Outcomes are much harder to predict with campaigns now because a single performance before a huge audience can easily end or precipitate issues almost instantaneously. For instance, during the 1988 federal election, John Turner s TV debate performance resurrected the Liberal party and almost made them win the election. If it wasn t for the televised debate, the Liberals would have surely been doomed.Television also forces much of the backstage machinery of political life to endure extremely heavy exposure, making it much more open than it used to be. Prior to the TV, politicians and their associates were only known by their public appearances and campaigns, leaving what happened outside these appearances in the dark. Because of TV and the candid camera, the politicians and the elections can be looked at in more depth now. Political party conventions and other “behind the scene” events can now be televised and shown to the general public. The nationalization of politics is also a result stemming mainly from television. Because the party leader is the main person seen on TV, politics at the riding level tends to suffer greatly. Voters do not really care about who is running in their riding; they are more concerned about the party leader that they want to see as Prime Minister. Pollsters have a similar effect in that the viewers see how the party is doing nationally, which may persuade the undecided voters to vote for that party (not even knowing about the candidate in the individual s riding ).

Television also has the tendency to shift political advantage towards those office holders with easiest access to a national medium. For instance, the President of the US will campaign directly out of the White House office in order to gain popularity and votes. It is a psychological advantage instilled in the voters heads. They see a President who is in his prestigious environment, and it may sway them more towards his side. The same can be done in Canada with other national mediums such as 24 Sussex Drive. In addition to the above stated effects, television also accentuates the personal by “selling” the leader. What is meant by this is that TV tends to focus more on the person than the real political issues because this is what gets the best viewer ratings. It has become more of a vote for people as opposed to issues. The 1960 s showed this de-politicization process as the “scientific campaigns” involving skilled advertising agencies and pollsters personalized the political process by selling political leaders instead of ideologies. Lastly, television (along with pollsters and ad agencies) quickens the tendency of politics to resemble big business. In order to run for office, it is important to have huge financial backing. Ad campaigns alone can cost millions, so it almost seems that in order to run for office you have to be extremely wealthy. So by observing the above statements, one can see that politics have been completely changed due to television and its components. TV has now added new ways to win elections as well as new ways to lose them.


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