Yeah, the Super Bowl happened on Sunday. Yeah, I spent most of the day napping and fighting off crazed women in a Somerville Target. Yeah, I only watched the last thirty seconds of the game and then watched commercials online the day after. Although not nearly as good as huskies in a car, this commercial for Pete Hoekstra’s U.S. Senate campaign has been bopping around the politico-sphere. For those who are too lazy to click, the ad is an attack effort against incumbent Democratic senator Debbie Spenditnow Stabenow. The video features a young, presumably Chinese woman who rides up through rice paddies in a bicycle, wearing a straw hat and then speaking in broken English. Among other things she says: “You borrow more and more, from us . . . We take your jobs. Thank you Debbie ‘Spend-it-now’.” Before I really get into it, here’s the rundown:
1. Despite allegations of racism from all sides, Hoekstra has not apologized for his ad. His campaign has called the ad “satirical” and “hit[ting] on the education system, essentially.” His campaign refuses to acknowledge that the ad is racial.
2. Apparently, if you look at the html code of the video, the image of the Asian woman is labeled as “yellowgirl.” No I am not shitting you.
3. The website to which the site directs people looks like someone shnarfed a bunch of Chinese take-out menus and then regurgitated them all over my computer. If you scroll down, there’s a section called “The Great Wall of Debt.”
Aside from the obvious racial issue, this commercial really bothers me. This is fear mongering at its most base. Hoekstra is playing on the irrational fears of Americans, such as the fact that China holds much of our debt, is taking our jobs, and our high national spending. Let’s ignore the factual inaccuracies or the inconsistencies with Republican doctrine. This is just irresponsible politician-ing. I personally believe that we should expect more from our elected representatives. Instead of catering to every whim and giving in to hysteria, politicians should serve as a rational voice. Politicians should be able to rise above cognitive biases (as much as anyone can), and set an example for citizens everywhere. This means that instead of preying on the overreactions of his constituents and encouraging racism, Pete Hoekstra, should have rationally criticized his opponent for her support of Obamacare and wily feminist ways. (To be fair, Debbie Spenditnow Stabenow actually has a bit of a conservative streak.) But, you say, if Petey here didn’t use ugly, negative ads, Miss Debbie surely would. And then where would we be?!
This is not the prisoner’s dilemma. Candidates have the opportunity to meet with each other and come to an agreement. There are no collusion laws against agreeing to run a clean campaign. Before
football quidditch games, the team captains shake hands and agree to a clean game. That’s all I’m asking for.
At the very least, can we stop hiring Fred Davis (of “I am not a witch” fame) to do stuff?
Lisa Wang is a 2L. Her column runs every other Wednesday, and she also be provides commentary on the Republican primary debates.