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A campaign ad opens with a black screen and the words, “Content Warning: This video contains strong imagery. Viewer discretion is advised” in bold, white letters in the center. Then it cuts to a noose hanging from a tree and then sharply cuts to one swinging from a gallows outside of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.

As we watch this imagery, a voice solemnly says, “The pain of our past persists to this day,”. The voice is that of Charles Booker, Kentucky’s first Black Democratic U.S. Senate candidate.

Charles Booker campaign video

A few seconds after past scenes of lynchings, Booker appears in a suit with a noose around his neck, explaining how it was used as a tool of terror and to murder his ancestors.

He then shifts to how his opponent – incumbent Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – compared expanded health to slavery, voted against anti-lynching laws and condemned the Civil Rights movement.

As he slowly removes the noose from his neck, he cautions voters that Rand Paul will continue to cause division, while Booker says he’ll take Kentucky from historical harm to healing.

Guns used as political propaganda in campaign videos

A few states away in Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey wants her constituents her support for the Second Amendment is in her reelection commercial.

Ivey is sitting at her desk and begins her spiel with, “For years I’ve held a gun permit. For safety, security and just cause.” She then begins to roll out her legislative record on protecting those same rights for others in her state. At the conclusion of the 30 second ad, the governor pulls several items out of her purse–some lipstick, an Iphone and a Smith and Wesson .38. 

Is this really what we need right now? Sensationalized political propaganda to rouse fear, trauma, rebellion and division for votes? The Republicans and Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.

America’s seen some dark and low times but I think this year takes the cake. With record high inflation numbers, a severe and growing mental health crisis, alarming increases in mass shootings and hate crimes and a slew of other public disasters, relief looks like a distant fantasy. 

Meanwhile, elected officials are so busy trying to win a penis swinging contest that they’re ignoring the immediate needs of constituents. 

Fmr. Rep. Charles Booker to challenge Rand Paul's Kentucky Senate seat
Fmr. Rep. Charles Booker to challenge Rand Paul’s Kentucky Senate seat. Photo courtesy Associated Press
Fmr. Rep. Charles Booker to challenge Rand Paul’s Kentucky Senate seat. Photo courtesy Associated Press

Voter apathy

And in their distraction, 64% of Americans believe that democracy is at risk of failing. More than half of 18-29 year olds believe that politics is no longer able to meet the challenges of this country, which is sure to contribute to voter apathy. Lastly, voter turnout in primary elections is low in states like Ohio, California, Georgia and even Booker and Ivey’s states of Kentucky and Alabama.

I truly hope this is a wake up call for us voters. We need public servants that are going to work for us. Not politicians with massive egos who use their posts to manipulate our emotions and act out fight scenes akin to messy reality TV with other politicians.  

Bottom line, if folks like Charles Booker and Kay Ivey aren’t talking about food and health security, increased and accelerated supports for mental health, ending domestic terrorism and violent crimes or anything else that will improve our quality of life, they have to go and they can’t get into our city halls, statehouses or Capitol. Now is the time to turn apathy into action.

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