Live Free

When one thinks of social movements, political parties are usually not the first thing that comes to mind. I do believe, however, that some political parties fit the definition. A social movement is defined as “an uninstitutionalized collectivity that operates on a sustained basis to exert external influence in behalf of a cause” Simons, pg. 480). To put it into layman’s terms, a social movement is a group of people outside of the mainstream of thought that try to influence people on behalf of a cause over a long period of time. By this definition, such political parties as the Republicans and Democrats would not fit the definition because they are main stream. As proof, in the 2012 presidential election, the Republicans and Democrats combined had over 98% of the popular vote. The Libertarian party, on the other hand, only got .99% . It’s pretty safe to say that they would be considered not mainstream. The Libertarian Party was established in 1971 (http://www.lp.org/our-history) . 40 years would definitely fall under the category of “a sustained basis”. The bigger problem that some people would have of defining a political party as a social movement probably would be that they don’t really have a cause; rather they try to influence many different topics of debate. I would argue that political parties in general do have a cause, and they achieve that cause through the influencing of opinions on a wide variety of topics. For instance, on the header of the Libertarian Party webpage, they use the slogan “Minimum Government, Maximize Freedom” (www.lp.org). I would define this as the general cause, and to achieve it, they try to push their agenda on laws that further their cause.
This video was put out by the Libertarian party in April of 2012, when election season started heating up, on their Youtube channel. This video shows many different libertarian figures talking about how it doesn’t matter if you vote Republican or Democrat, because both are fairly similar. The really interesting thing about this video is that it takes arguments that you would generally hear against a Democrat or Republic and instead lumps them both into one group and shows how the arguments apply to both. It mentions how both parties are responsible for the debt, both are backed by banks, and both create a larger and more intrusive government. I think by saying all this, it can be assumed that the audience which they are trying to reach is the undecided voters and the voters who are tired of both parties. However, I think that this appeal fell more than short for quite a few reasons.
The first major problem with this ad has is that besides Gary Johnson, everyone else is virtually unknown. Even assuming that this ad did everything else right, which it didn’t, people will not seriously listen to someone with a new idea unless they know the person or their background. If we look at in terms of Burke’s pentad, this ad falls short majorly which it comes to agent. Without a name or backing, these people probably have as little sway on people’s political opinions as two old men talking in a coffee shop.
The next major problem is another part of the pentad, the agency. Agency asks how the act was accomplished. The how in this case fails because this video was edited in an absolutely horrendous way. First off, this video is nothing more than a couple title screens, and a bunch of clips of speeches edited together. This honestly looks like something I’d expect to see from a high school video class, not a professional political organization. Secondly the clips that are edited together all have different backgrounds, lighting, video quality, and even sound levels to some extent. This is very distracting takes the audience’s attention away from the point they are trying to make. Thirdly, in the clips that they did choose, some of the speakers weren’t the greatest. There are quite a number of pauses, stammering over words, ummmms, and repetitions of phrases. All three of these points culminate by leaving the audience a little uneasy, and unsure of what to think. As a member of that audience, I found myself asking “Sure there might be some valid points made here, but is this really the best they could do?”.
I must say that overall I am sorely disappointed in this ad its lack of persuasive ability. Especially for a video whose title is “Why Vote Libertarian?”, this seems an almost laughable attempt at that answer. Even as a libertarian myself, I felt almost ashamed that this was how my party is putting themselves out there. I firmly believe that the libertarian party has a good platform and some very good ideas. However I think this ad would have been much more effective if they had a) gotten some more popular libertarians to be in it to put some weight behind their message, like Ron Paul or Penn Jillete for instance b) edited and filmed the entire video much more professionally and c) been much more concise in their points, instead of having unknown men ramble and stammer over their words.

-Alex Youngman-

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