This year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida was not exactly a great success. In fact, the Gallup Poll showed us that Mitt Romney’s speech at the convention received “the lowest rating of any of the eight speeches Gallup has tested since Bob Dole’s GOP acceptance speech in 1996,” according to The Huffington Post. The post also stated that the convention produced the worst voter intentions in history with a +2 percent, compared to +3 in 2004 and +5 in 2008. While there are many variables that contribute to such low ratings, the convenience and effectiveness of the mass media played a key role.
Most people will not argue with the claim that media attention has become the basis for political attitudes in today’s society. The fact that the average American can essentially look up any information whenever and wherever they want can be very beneficial for presidential candidates in regards to reaching a large number of voters in a short period time. However, there is a downside to millions of Americans having the world at their fingertips. Mitt Romney first experienced the disadvantages to the Web 2.0 phenomenon when he spoke at the NAACP convention this past July. When reflecting on his speech, Romney stated, “I had the privilege of speaking today at the NAACP convention in Houston…when I mentioned I’m going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren’t happy … that’s OK…You remind them of this: If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget, nothing is really free.” When this statement went viral, Romney received a lot of negative press. While some argue that accusations against Romney’s statement were taken out of context, it shows how important media attention is to the public’s perception of a candidate. People made their own judgments about Romney’s statement, which in turn swayed their opinion about Romney one way or another. A more recent example of how detrimental the mass media can be consists of one of Romney’s recent catchphrases which simply reads “Keep America America”. People are outraged that Romney continually recited the phrase because the slogan “Keep America American” was used by the Ku Klux Klan in their 1920’s attempt to deface many groups including African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and homosexuals.
Americablog, a progress political blog, was the first to provide the now popular examples of the controversial overlap. Much of the focus was put on a video of the multi-millionaire candidate in which he is found using the now controversial slogan. Mitt Romney was also quoted on the blog from an article found in the L.A. Times in which he repeats the phrase.
Since Romney first used the slogan, people have been publicly bashing him on all social media sites. While Romney’s slogan “Keep America America” is eerily similar to the Ku Klux Klan’s rally to “Keep America American,”the two phrases are not one in the same. While Romney used the phrase to insinuate that we must keep American values incorporated in our government, the Ku Klux Klan used the phrase to convince people to discriminate against others. It is obvious that presidential candidates, or anyone associated with politics should be very careful about slogans and phrases they use because one wrong word can gain a lot of bad press. Therefore, while it is unknown why Romney used such a slogan for his campaign, he is going to have to deal with the consequences and try to regain some voters that he might have lost as a result of using it.
The fact that Romney had a similar but not identical (while we must admit it may be too similar) slogan to that of the Ku Klux Klan has directly affected him. Romney, in a sense has been “branded” by this one slogan. It is likely that people who may have not even followed the presidential election have formulated an opinion against Romney upon hearing the controversy behind the “Keep America America” slogan. The rise of technology’s role on mass media in today’s society has led to more branding than ever before.