(Zany) Letter to Senator Amy Klobuchar | Subject: Onions, Attack Ads, Cats and Dogs, Democrats and Republicans

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on January 18, 2012 0 Comments

Dear Senator Klobuchar,

Like many voters I know, I absolutely loathe election season, and it’s largely because of political ads. Over the course of the next nine months or so, I’ll be subjected to dozens of ads about a whole host of candidates.

Many of these will be attack ads. As I recall, you ran a pretty clean campaign in 2008, and I really liked that you didn’t make copious use of attack ads. I’d like to encourage you to avoid attack ads again in the coming election. Such ads are problematic for so many reasons.

First and foremost, they appeal to the lowest common denominator—fear. Almost all of them commit a fallacy of some type; more often than not it’s scare tactics. Example: if you vote for THE OTHER GUY, bad, bad things will happen to you and this adorable, adorable child eating ice cream. (I wish I were making that up, but I’m not. The 1964 election was a bad year for attack ads.)

They are also a colossal waste of money. According the New York Times, candidates spent $2.8 billion dollars on ads for the 2008 election cycle alone. That’s a lot of money to spend on something almost all Americans hate. I mean, if the political parties are absolutely dead-set on spending money on something most of the American public doesn’t like, then perhaps we could spend that money a bit more usefully. For instance, I think we can probably come up with a food—or at worst, a short list of foods—that most Americans dislike, but that are, in fact, edible. That way, we could put that money to use, and we could probably knockout hunger, at least during election years.

For instance, I really, really, really don’t like onions, but they are edible (or so I’m told). Senator Klobuchar, 2.8 billion dollars buys a lot of onions.

According to the USDA, the average price of onions in the U.S. is $1.55 per pound. If you spent all of the ad money on those instead, that’d be 1,806,451,610 onions. Senator Klobuchar, that’s like six onions for every man, woman and child in this country. And the campaign slogan would practically write itself: Onions for everybody, but hey, at least it’s not a political ad.

Of course, since not everyone hates onions, we could substitute other edible, but equally terrible foods, such as Cauliflower ($1.48/lb.) or Beets ($0.65/lb.). Senator, when it comes to awful food selection, I am certainly willing to compromise.

I don’t dislike the ads just because they’re useless; it’s more than that—they’re childish to the point of being embarrassing. There’s all that dingy lighting, the unflattering portraits, the garish fonts and quotes out of context, and of course, the gravelly voice of the narrator, who always seems to have just finished providing voiceovers for Life After People, which by the way, is a terrible, terrible show.

It’s exactly what I would have done to my enemies if I had a film studio in junior high—and it’s so easy to do. As a case in point, consider my cats and dogs. I have two of each, and they fight, well, like Republicans and Democrats. If the various beasts of my household were running for elected office—President and Vice-President of the Living Room, say—and the dogs created an attack ad about my cats, it might read as follows:

[Grainy black and white image of my cat, Xerox, standing on the kitchen table]

Life after People Voiceover Guy: This cat is on the table. He shouldn’t be on the table, but he is, because he’s a cat. Cats, they can’t be trusted.

[Cut to still photo of Xerox and Peanut devouring their breakfast, which they do in about fifteen seconds]

Life after People Voiceover Guy: But it’s worse than that, they expect handouts and they’re lazy.

[Cut to a photo of a neighborhood stray wandering through the woods]

Life after People Voiceover Guy: It worse than that. They violate our borders, ignoring the rule of law. Look at this tomcat; it probably just ate a songbird, ask yourself: Hasn’t your back yard been a little quieter than usual?

[Cut to a video of Xerox the Cat meowing incessantly]

Life after People Voiceover Guy: Did you notice that he didn’t say “meow?” He said “Mao.” That’s right, like the communists. What if he’s like other—violent— Maoists? Is your cat a terrorist?

[Replay a segment of the video with Xerox the Cat meowing incessantly]

Life after People Voiceover Guy: And he said “Mao” seventeen times in a row. With cats, freedom of speech has gone too far.

[Cut to a photo of Truffles the Terrier surrounded by rawhide bones.]

Truffles the Dog: I’m Truffles the Terrier and I approve this message. I support bones for all and I’m tough on defense. These bones surrounding me? These are the bones of my enemies.

Do you see what I mean, Senator?

Let me know what you think, and best wishes for the 2012 campaign.

Take care,


Brett Ortler

P.S. This is a writing project of sorts. You can see more here: www.brettsletters.com

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