We certainly didn't need any further evidence of money and advertising's power. Yet we got it in the vote on Measure 4, where "yes" gave UND permission to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname.
Up until a few weeks ago, people were like 99.44 percent for keeping the name and .56 percent for retiring it. The recent vote was an amazing turnaround: 67.65 percent for letting the name go.
We seem to be saps for advertising, especially when it comes to elections, even though we know the ads are slanted in one direction.
At least with the measures, the ads are more likely to be informative, as Measure 4 ads were, laying out the realities of the situation. With candidates, however, the mud and half-truths and untruths can really fly.
And even though we mute the ads, their message still seems to get through. It might save us all a lot of time and fuss if we just gave the election to the candidate, party or measure raising the most money.
Then we might see how silly our whole election process is or, in other words, see how we are more a plutocracy than a democracy.
One way to cut through the half-truths and the lies, however, is to get information from other sources, such as movies and comedy shows.
Two movies come to mind: "Too Big to Fail" and "Flaw." Both movies covered the market crash of 2008. Both tried to give a good overall picture of what happened and why.
They did not obviously push one agenda or viewpoint. They were more art than advertising.
A recent comedy show also comes to mind: Jon Stewart's June 14 "The Daily Show." A portion of this show contrasts nicely with a portion of "Flaw," a documentary in which Congressman Henry Waxman questions Alan Greenspan about the 2008 market crash.
Waxman, who looks like a 1940s public figure with his bald head and Dewey mustache, directly asks Greenspan tough questions in an unemotional, matter of fact manner. And he gets fairly direct answers, such as Greenspan admitting "a flaw" in our market system, which he oversaw as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987-2006.
He also answered that "we weren't smart enough" to foresee and head off the crash. (He didn't say that Wall Street bankers weren't honest enough or moral enough to safeguard our market system and avert the disaster.)
This contrasts with the Daily Show clip of Republican Senators tip-toeing around apologetically, even obsequiously, while tossing softball questions to Jamie Dimon, president and CEO of JP Morgan, whose firm recently lost $7 billion in risky practices just like those that caused the 2008 crash.
The senators denigrated the Senate more than they asked Dimon actual questions such as Waxman asked of Greenspan, saying things like we lose money here all the time. After rolling his eyes at this performance, Stewart pointed out that losing money is different from spending money.
He then launched into a parody of the senators in his favorite exaggerated Jersey Shore accent, something like: "Uh, we had this, like, seven billion dollars, and now it's gone. Gone. And all we got is this section of freeway. Hey, where's our seven bill? Let's dig up this (bleep) freeway and look for it."
We can make the choice: political ads, or movies and comedy about politics. I suggest the latter two. It's worth tracking down the two movies.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)