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Television And Presidential Elections

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THE influence of technology on the United States presidential elections is an on going debate among candidates and voters. "Has technology, such as the television, made elections more accessible, or has it moved candidates from pursuing issues, to pursuing image?" Television has pressured presidential candidates to succeed in the presentation of their image, instead of pursuing issues important to the well being of America, as a democratic nation.

IN the past several decades, the country has seen some presidents win second terms by margins previously believed to be unattainable, yet has witnessed defeats of more incumbents then at any time in our national history. These outcomes are directly related to the presence of television and to the changing nature of the men in office. Source B addresses this subject, "because of television's sense of intimacy, the American people feel they know their presidents as persons and hence no longer feel the need for party guidance."

DURING presidential elections in the United States, it has become customary for the main candidates to engage in a debate. The topics discussed in the debate are often the most controversial issues of the time, and some have said that elections can be won or lost based on these debates. Source C agrees, stating, "holding a presidential election today without a television debate would seem almost undemocratic." Source C doesn't hold back from discussing that contemporary debates are solely based on the satisfaction of the image portrayed by the candidate during the debate instead of the content, specifically noting Kennedy's "victory" in the debates because of his "crisp" image.

IN the late 18th century, Thomas Jefferson envisioned an ideal democratic system for America, based on self-contained rural communities, populated by fully informed and involved citizens who possess a clear picture of their



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