The Art of Campaigning: Economics on the Campaign Trail

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"The purpose of education is to keep a culture from being drowned in senseless repetitions, each of which claims to offer a new insight." - Harold Rosenberg, Art Critic

The presidential campaign is built on repetition.

President Barack Obama says the economy is getting better; Governor Mitt Romney says not fast enough.

The campaign has transformed into something like what critic Harold Rosenberg once called "action art", where creating the image becomes part of the image itself.

And that's what the candidates are doing, creating an image of the economy they feel will draw support for them. 

After all, WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Dr. Jess Brown says, "If your personality and likeability factor is high enough, Americans give you the benefit of the doubt."

Instead of policy solutions, the candidates hone in on symbols of the economic picture, like a Warhol that replaces Marilyn Monroe with the unemployed.

The candidates treat the economy like a Mondrian, with well carved paths that if followed, will lead to economic stability.  

But the economy looks much more like a Pollock, chaotic and full of information that's difficult to interpret, making up a large, unruly picture that eludes simple explanation.

But Dr. Brown points out, "We don't vote based on economic history.  We vote for or against presidential candidates based on economic hope.  Economic expectations.  If we voted strictly on the basis of unemployment history, Franklin Roosevelt doesn't get a second term, and Ronald Reagan doesn't get a second term."

Dr. Brown says candidates don't seem focused on detailed strategies to handle our economic problems.  

Perhaps they're looking to transform themselves into abstract expressions of what voters hope the future holds.

This isn't to say the campaign or the economic speeches or even voting are pointless, but they belongs in context.

You need to know picking your candidate isn't all about validating a complex policy manifesto.  It's like art.  An expression of an idea worth putting down on paper.