Friday, November 9, 2012

The Simpsons as political satire in the 2012 Presidential Election

Politics is a common theme in the Simpsons, and several episodes have dealt specifically with electoral campaigns.

Just ahead of the presidential election, the creators of the Simpsons produced a video featuring the endorsement of Mitt Romney by the character Mr. Burns. The video was made very recently, as Mr. Burns makes references to the recent positive job numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mr. Burns is described as a "stereotype of corporate America in his unquenchable desire to increase his own wealth and power, inability to remember his employees' names (including Homer's, despite frequent interactions – which has become something of a recurrent joke) and lack of concern for their safety and well-being. Reflecting his advanced age, Burns is given to expressing dated humor, making references to pre-1950 popular culture, and aspiring to apply obsolete technology to everyday life."

In this particular video, Mr. Burns uses several techniques to encourage America to vote for Mitt Romney. He trivializes and minimizes several of the embarrassing incidents that Romney's campaign has had to deal with. He also uses some manipulation and deception tactics that Romney has been accused of using in order to make Obama look like an inferior candidate.

Beneath the humorous intent of the video, it is plainly obvious that a statement is being made by the show's creators. Specifically, they are saying that rich and powerful people are the only ones who really and consciously support Mitt Romney, because Romney is instrumental in their agenda to dominate the nation. In addition, Mr. Burns' habit of making references to outdated concepts leaves the impression that Romney supporters are living in the less-than-equitable past, and are denying the current American realities.

There are arguments to be made in favor of this. People who fit Mr. Burns' profile were more likely to vote for Mitt Romney. Election results indicate that Romney was more popular among affluent, white male voters. In contrast, only 29% of Latinos and 7% of African Americans voted for Romney. Women were also less likely to vote for Romney, except those who were married.

In terms of the actual election results, one could also argue this is voter-stereotyping is not correct. The popular vote was close, and Romney received more electoral votes than McCain did in 2008. Romney carried many southern states, where median incomes are some of the lowest. Educational attainment is also the lowest in these states. Of the 10 states with the lowest rate of college graduation, eight were won by the Republicans. Seemingly, Romney did not translate well with younger voters, a key demographic which assisted in President Obama’s re-election. This comes without saying that he Republican Party has now the task of revamping their party to appeal to the changing American demographic.

Post-election results indicate Obama’s emphasis on non-white voters and especially Hispanic voters allowed him the Electoral College necessary for re-election. As put by, Ross Douthat: “[Romney] was ultimately defeated less by his own limitations as a leader, and more by the fact that his party particularly want to be reinvented.”


Michael Fabris, Foundation for Democratic Advancement Blogger

Question to the Readers:

How can the Republican Party re-invigorate their supporters to adapt to the evolving America?

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