The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Iowa's "Choice"

When most Iowans turn on the television, commercials are not something they enjoy watching, especially political commercials. Often these consist of opponents bashing each other’s campaigns and preaching about their successes. In the race for Governor of Iowa there are no exceptions. Chet Culver is campaigning against Terry Branstad for this position in 2010. Culver, a Democrat, is running for reelection while Branstad, a Republican, is looking to reclaim his previous position.  Each candidate runs television ads, holds rallies, and other promotional events to win other the votes of Iowans. As a native Iowan, I’ve heard and seen these politicians for years and have also witnessed their campaigns in the past (although I’m not politically intelligent at all). In the ad “Choice” released from the Culver campaign, Governor Culver talks about education, renewable energy, and medical research. It is obvious who he target audience is, the white, middle class, average American family. He touches on each of these subjects for reasons including the sense of nationalism and the overall message he states.
                Throughout the commercial Culver refers to Branstad and each of his views compared to the views of Culver and his campaign. He uses these to transition into how his views are better and that we, as Iowans and Americans, should agree with him. In each of the scenes in the commercial Culver use common scenes found all over Iowa and the Midwest. He begins in an elementary classroom with a teacher in the background helping students then switches to an outdoor landscape that pans over wind turbine equipment and a bright green grassy field. A classroom is something many people connect directly to families with small children and an emphasis on the future of our country and the leaders we create in these schools. A sense of nationalism is connected with future generations and how our nation as a whole will benefit from bettering public schooling. Not only is nationalism portrayed in the classroom scene but also when looking at the renewable resources that Iowa has available. Wind turbines can be seen all over the state and have been in the spotlight over the last decade as an important part of this growing market. When people see gas prices skyrocket and oil companies making millions and traveling in private jets all over the country, it fuels a desire to change where we import energy and resources from. Nationalism is again obvious as people see this as a way to become more independent and better the environment as well. Our culture often revolves around moving and finding the next big product, renewable energy sources are a great way to fuel that in an innovative and eco-friendly way, which middle class Americans like. In between bashing Branstad and showing scenes of pre-school students learning, Culver relays his message and call to action.
Medical stem cell research is something he emphasizes that as Americans we should support. The scene is filmed in a laboratory that may or may not be related to medical research at all. In one sense this approach could work on the people that are or have been affected by stem cell research. One the other hand, those that oppose stem cell research could be turned away from this statement alone. He talks about what the viewer should or shouldn’t support again when he brings up the subject of moving forward as a state and community. Making advances in research, school systems, and the job market are appealing subjects to middle class citizens. Culver makes sure to touch on each and show scenes that almost everyone in the Midwest can easily relate to and probably seen on a daily basis. Not only does he appeal to city dwellers but also to rural families and farmers.
The name says it all, “Choice”. We have the power to change the direction of the state and influence the nation as a whole during these elections. Culver uses his thirty seconds of commercial space to spread his message to common voters in Iowa. By utilizing their sense of nationalism and telling voters to get out there and support his causes because that’s what he believes will benefit the most people. He also implies that what he believes is what is always right and what Branstad will do will take our state in the wrong direction.

Megan Fisher

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