Illustration for article titled The Dueling Dystopias of Political Campaign Ads

John McCain and Barack Obama may seem as different as night and day, but there are a good number of folks still on the fence as to who will get their vote. Where debates, stump speeches, and lectures on voting records have failed, maybe science fiction will save the day. Supporters on both sides of the aisle are crafting speculative fiction in hopes of swaying votes toward their candidate.The Obama campaign’s “McCain Wins” ad appeals to its base by not just speculating on what could happen if McCain wins, but by confronting them with the election night moment:

The Obama ad hopes actually seeing a McCain victory will have an emotional resonance, spurring people into action if they get a gnarly tingle down their spine. And MoveOn borrows the moment to remind young liberals to vote, further postulating a world where Obama supporters are more furious at non-voters than people who vote for McCain: Click to view The most thorough work of speculative election fiction comes from James Dobson of Focus on Family. Dobson composed a 15-page “Letter from 2012,” illustrating a world after four years of an Obama presidency. Trying to sway young evangelicals who might be caught up in Obama’s rockstar appeal, Dobson paints the Obama dystopia as one where not just health care and defense policy are screwed up, but civil liberties are under attack:

Home schooling: “The land of the free”? Parents’ freedom to teach their children has been severely restricted. The Supreme Court, to the delight of the National Education Association, followed the legal reasoning of a February 28, 2008 ruling in Re: Rachel L by the Second District Court of Appeal in California (although that ruling had been later reversed). The Court declared that home schooling was an illegal violation of state educational requirements except in cases where the parents (a) had an education certificate from an accredited state program, (b) agreed to use state-approved textbooks in all courses, and (c) agreed not to not to teach their children that homosexual conduct is wrong, or that Jesus is the only way to God, since these ideas have been found to hinder students’ social adjustment and acceptance of other lifestyles and beliefs, and to run counter to the state’s interest in educating its children to be good citizens.


Granted both sides tend to paint their opponents’ presidencies in an extreme light, but perhaps if political candidates spent more time outlining their own visions for the future and less time doing battle, we’d end up with fewer undecideds.

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