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Ross: Are we really too weak to resist political ads?

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Democratic candidates are accusing billionaires of exploiting our weak election laws to buy elections. I even saw an op-ed in the New York Times which described their excessive wealth as a “threat to democracy.”

Now, if they were literally buying votes, as in, sending out henchmen to slip money into your pocket as they watched you mark your ballot – yes that would be a threat.

But generally they’re not using bribery. They’re buying ads. And in this age of non-stop omnipresent click-bait media, shouldn’t we be wise to all that by now?

I know these ads are scientifically engineered to exploit our emotional weaknesses and convince us that the world as we know it is about to end. But are we really helpless to resist? Don’t we all know that any political ad or social media campaign that suddenly makes you angry or sad is an attempt to manipulate you? Imagine if we all learned to recognize when our emotions were being artificially inflamed, and just mentally blocked the ad the way you block a troll on Twitter.

The billionaires would be wasting their money.

And then imagine if, instead of political ads, we used the same level of care choosing politicians as we use to choose a babysitter. Not based on some ad, but using references, qualifications, seeing how they interact other children, and: do they know who to call in an emergency?

You can hear Dave’s commentary every morning on Seattle’s Morning News. Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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