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Volume 68, Issue 49, Friday, November 1, 2002


Political ads tell distorted stories

Craig Byrnes
Opinion Columnist

Democracy is falling victim to a lackadaisical society, and there is no end in sight. With the midterm elections around the corner, voters are being doused with mud rather than information regarding key issues. Unless a swift slap to the head comes soon, the future will be shrouded in black.

Despite popular belief, information is the key to the meaning of life, and Texasi gubernatorial race has sent it down the hatch. The constant mudslinging between Gov. Rick Perry, Republican, and his Democratic opponent Tony Sanchez seems juvenile. But this type of race is not uncommon and has proven to work time and time again, said Richard Murray, the director of UHis Center for Public Policy and a revered political scientist.

"If you run a spot talking about how much of a rat your opponent is, (voters) pay attention," Murray said. This policy, used by many, becomes overwhelmingly apparent in a Republican Party campaign advertisement against John Sharp, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. In the ad, an unflattering picture of Sharp is frozen on the screen as a voice says "John Sharp, a big government liberal."

The Republican ad fails to mention that Sharp has received countless endorsements from prominent public figures, such as former baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan (a well-known Republican). 

It also doesnit tell you he is the only Democrat running for state office who has been endorsed by the Texas Association of Business & Chambers of Commerce political action committee.

John Sharp is a man focused on state government with a strong history of improving budgets, said Bill Hobby, the longest-running lieutenant governor in Texas history. His Republican opponent, David Dewhurst, would not be an effective choice because of his desire for a seat in the U.S. Senate that is being sought by Texas Attorney General John Cornyn.

The Texas governor is not all-powerful. The constitution "set up a system where no one person could do damage," Hobby said. The official holding the most power in the executive branch is the lieutenant governor, due in part to his position presiding over the state Senate and in part to his chairing of the Legislative Budget Committee, as laid out in article four of the state constitution.

"Itis not that one office is more powerful than the other; they just do different things," Hobby explained.

The lack of accurate knowledge on the voteris part leads to voting for a candidate based on whether that candidate is corrupt rather than on what that candidate will do for the people. 

This sort of trend disheartens younger voters, causing them to disenfranchise themselves.

"Only about 20 percent of folks under 25 will vote in this midterm election," Murray said.

While societyis desire to participate in government is still decreasing, one must remember the U.S. government is nonetheless a democracy, and the people voted carelessly into office are the ones who make the laws and call the shots.

Byrnes, a junior communication major, 
can be reached at


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