Political Fallacies in the 2012 Election

Categories: AdvertisingMistakes

In the landscape of American political races, logical fallacies have become an entrenched element within political advertisements. The 2012 election was no exception, showcasing a notable example in an advertisement featuring Joe Soptic, a former steel plant worker, associated with the Obama-affiliated Political Action Committee, Priorities USA. This advertisement, rife with logical fallacies such as post hoc reasoning, ad hominem attacks, and slippery slope arguments, aimed to discredit the Romney campaign.

Post Hoc Reasoning: A Flawed Foundation

The crux of the advertisement rested on post hoc reasoning, a logical fallacy wherein an argument posits a causal relationship between events that are, in fact, unrelated.

Soptic directly attributed the demise of his wife to Mitt Romney, claiming that the closure of the steel plant by Romney's former company, Bain Capital, led to the loss of their health care, subsequently resulting in his wife's illness and eventual death.

This post hoc fallacy, however, fails to withstand scrutiny. Notably, Romney had severed ties with Bain Capital two years prior to the closure of GST Steel, severing the direct link between his actions and the plant's shutdown.

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By misattributing causation, the advertisement weakens its credibility and raises questions about the accuracy of its claims.

Ad Hominem Attacks: Undermining the Substance

Beyond post hoc reasoning, the advertisement heavily relied on ad hominem attacks, targeting Romney's character rather than addressing the substance of his policies. Soptic's opening statement, declaring that "Mitt Romney doesn't understand what he's done to people's lives," constitutes a direct assault on Romney's character, subtly impugning his intelligence.

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Moreover, the claim that "Mitt Romney and Bain Capital made millions for themselves and then closed the plant" goes beyond policy critique, insinuating greed without addressing the core political issues.

Such attacks divert the discourse from the substantive political differences between candidates, relying on emotionally charged character assaults to sway public opinion. By focusing on personal traits rather than policy positions, the advertisement detracts from the genuine debate that should characterize political discourse.

Slippery Slope: A Tenuous Predictive Leap

The logical fallacy of slippery slope makes an appearance as the advertisement suggests a chain of events where Romney's leadership would lead to the shutdown of businesses, resulting in the denial of health insurance and, ultimately, causing numerous deaths. This oversimplified cause-and-effect narrative not only lacks empirical support but also relies on a speculative sequence of events that may not unfold as predicted.

Assertions of a slippery slope, in this context, oversimplify the complexities of economic and healthcare systems, reducing them to a linear progression of dire consequences. Such a predictive leap not only weakens the argument but also introduces an element of fear-mongering, attempting to sway public opinion through the amplification of unlikely worst-case scenarios.

Conclusion: The Persistence of Logical Fallacies in Political Discourse

The 2012 election, marked by a proliferation of television commercials, witnessed a surge in the use of logical fallacies. The case of Joe Soptic's advertisement exemplifies how these fallacies, including post hoc reasoning, ad hominem attacks, and slippery slope arguments, can be wielded to undermine political opponents. Despite their evident flaws, logical fallacies persist as fixtures in political rhetoric, threatening the quality and substance of the discourse.

As voters, it is crucial to approach political advertisements with a discerning eye, recognizing the potential presence of fallacious reasoning and demanding a more substantive debate on the issues that truly shape our nation. By fostering a political landscape grounded in sound argumentation and evidence-based discourse, we can contribute to the elevation of public discourse and the strengthening of democratic principles.

Updated: Jan 10, 2024
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Political Fallacies in the 2012 Election. (2016, Apr 23). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/fallacies-and-mistakes-in-an-advertisement-essay

Political Fallacies in the 2012 Election essay
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