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Sarah Palin’s book signing event was brought to my attention courtesy of Fox News, and their inability to produce the right footage. While news stations are focused on the poor quality of news Fox has recently been producing, another issue has been brought to my attention. After repeatedly seeing news coverage of Palin’s book signing, I was wondering why do politicians write books?

In the article Political books thrive in election year by Associated Press Writer Hillel Italie, Italie explains that political book sales are on the rise.

“According to R.R. Bowker, which compiles publishing statistics, 972 books on U.S. politics and government have come out, or are scheduled to come out, this election year. That’s more than double the 400 released in 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated the first President Bush, and well above the 783 that were published in 2000,” said Italie.

While the fact that more political books are being produced is true, the question remains, why are so many more politicians deciding to write books about their adventures in politics.

Reasons Why Politicians Write Books

 1) Create an image for yourself as an “Expert” in your field.

Writing a book requires a lot of research to learn about the topics you are going to focus on. When you do a lot of research on one specific topic you become more informed about specific topics than most Americans. After writing a book you may be referred to as an expert in your field, which can improve your credibility and image.

 2) Writing a book is a way to promote yourself and the topic you are writing about.

Writing a book is free advertising for yourself and your field of study. Not only will people learn more about the topics that you are writing about, but they will also learn more about you as an individual.

 3) Writing a book will expand your knowledge.

This one is more about personal gain and understanding. Writing a book will make you think about and research and different topics and ideas. Sometimes your research will lead you to other areas of study that you might be interested in.

 4) Tell your story.

 Many people write a book to tell their personal story. While working in a political job there are many issues and topics that are different from any other job. Some politicians write stories to tell people about their encounters and why they reacted a certain way.

5) Make money.

 Writing a book is a great way to make money for telling a story you already know. Writing a book about your personal story is usually simple. The amount of time that it takes to write the book will be minimal compared to the money that the book will make. Once the book is written little is required of the author, other than the occasional book signing. Sometimes first books can even lead to second and third book which will make more money for the author.

In the end everyone writes their own book for a different reason. Some people have something to prove and others just want to tell their story. The fact that there are more politicians writing books means that more people will have the chance to be informed about what issues they are voting for. Amazon.com has a list of books that you must read before you vote. Hopefully this will mean that more people are making informed decisions about whom and what they vote for.

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While this post is different than my pervious posts, I felt compelled to address this topic and how absurd it is.

With Thanksgiving a little over a week away I have noticed a few things that seem out of place, Christmas lights that have been popping up around the neighborhood, Christmas decorations scattering store windows and the endless TV commercials about Christmas shopping. These things are a little overwhelming considering there is still over a week before Thanksgiving.

A video on ehow.com explains that decorating for Christmas should be done until after Thanksgiving and certainly not before. However, for some reason I still see the decorations, Christmas trees and hear Christmas carols almost everywhere I go.

When will people realize that while Christmas is important, there is another holiday that they are completely forgetting about?

The main reason why many Americans begin decorating for Christmas so far in advance is because many companies start promoting Christmas sales and Christmas gifts months in advance.  Christmas has easily become the largest consumer holidays in America.  With the large amounts of money being spent on holiday accessories, gifts and food, almost every company is trying to make money during the holiday season.

With that in mind, what is the best way for companies to make money during the holidays?  The answer is to start promoting their items earlier than their competition, and in some cases this can mean TV ads for Christmas layaway in September and October.

With this huge emphasis being but on Christmas, Thanksgiving is becoming almost nonexistent. I rarely see Thanksgiving decorations or hear people talking about how excited they are to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I feel that Thanksgiving is quickly becoming just another day to drink beer and watch football. While Thanksgiving offers no real incentive for businesses to make money, it does have a deep history that is an important part of our country.  

Thanksgiving began in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is known as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. The harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation and interaction between the colonists and Native Americans. The tradition has come a long way from showing thankfulness for crops, but the meaning of Thanksgiving has stayed the same.

Elementary schools still teach children about the meaning of Thanksgiving, and some schools even perform plays. Children are taught why they should be thankful for all the things they have.

However, with black Friday shopping and the constant reminders about Christmas it is easy to see how people forget about Thanksgiving.

This weekend I visited several stores that have already begun to decorate for Christmas. While I understand that companies are trying to get ahead, I don’t understand how they can completely ignore Thanksgiving.

I think that Thanksgiving is an important holiday, and people should wait until after Thanksgiving is over to begin decorating for Christmas. Tell me what you think. Should people decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving?

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Veterans Day is a holiday that began at the end of World War I and commemorates veterans who served our country. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, The Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending WWI. November 11, 1938, it became a legal federal holiday. At the end of World War II the day was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to celebrate veterans of all wars.  With a American Flagbackground reaching back to the first World War, celebrated every year, how has Veterans Day become just another day for students to miss school?

Veterans look forward to Veterans Day to celebrate the lives of those men and women who fought for our country. Most college students look forward to Veterans Day as another day to miss class. So why is Veterans Day more important to older generations than younger ones?

The main reason why older generations know more about Veterans Day and have more appreciation for it is because they were more affected by past wars.

College students have not been involved in a war that has change society the way previous wars have. Celebrating Veterans Day to older generations is not just about celebrating victory or survival. Older generations celebrate Veterans Day to remember their brothers, husbands, neighbors and the way life once was. During the first two World Wars the entire country came together to fight and lend support to those fighting.

How the country changed during past wars

Rosie the RiveterWomen working in factories while men were away at war.Rosie the Riveter

WWII families – While adjusting to sacrifice there was an increase in job opportunities to push the country into war-time production.

WWI – During this recession families had Wheatless Wednesday and Meatless Mondays.

VietnamThe Kent State Massacre is an example of protests that took place during the war.  

Today less people know about what is going on in the Iraq War than previous generations that were involved in war. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern counties are used interchangeably, when they are obviously not.    Middle Eastern Countries

The media has also had an impact on the amount of coverage is shown to the American public. During February 2009, President Obama reversed the 18 year ban on photos of caskets arriving from war. Older generations saw not only photos of caskets, but also videos of soldiers fighting and dying.

Many people have made arguments blaming the media for turning America against Vietnam. The media created strong opinions about the Vietnam War, but have somehow failed to create strong opinions about the current war.

I believe the difference in media coverage has contributed to the way that younger generations have reacted to the current war. Compared to previous wars there has been little involvement, protesting or having much of an opinion at all.

This lack of knowledge and involvement in the current war has led to the reason why students think of Veterans Day as a day to miss class rather than celebrate their county. I believe that this lack of patriotism is due to the media coverage, banned photos and lack of knowledge about the current war.

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As I’m driving I can’t help but notice the political yard signs lining the streets. As I drive into a different county I notice that the names change, but the signs continue to scatter the yards of supporters.  I can’t help but wonder do these signs really work?Political yard signs

While these signs show the public who supports which candidate, they are not an effective way to persuade voters. Most people who put signs in their front yard are already strong supporters of a candidate or political party. The signs usually don’t persuade voters who are on the fence about who they should vote for.

These yards sign usually cost about $6 per sign, and sometimes less if ordered in bulk. The fact is that there are more effective ways to persuade and convince voters that a candidate is right for the job.

Effective Ways to Persuade Voters

Knock on doors-Talking with people face-to-face is a more effective way to persuade voters than yard signs.

Register voters – Registering voters will increase the possible number of people who could vote for your candidate.

Send direct mail piecesDirect mail pieces will get constitutes thinking about important issues. This could increase the number of people who vote for your candidate.

Donate money – Collecting money from donors will help the campaign to grow.

Another problem that campaigns face is the amount of time and effort that is needed to distribute signs and deal with unsatisfied voters. Wasting time and effort talking with voters who are unhappy because of something that has happened with their sign can cost the campaign valuable volunteer time.

Problems with Yard SignsObama yard signs

Lack of signs – Signs can be relatively expensive. Some small campaigns can’t afford to produce as many signs as needed. This can cause unhappy voter.

 Defaced signs – Signs that are damaged by the weather or vandalism can cause the campaign extra money to replace.

 Stolen signs – signs that are stolen can create negative voter attitudes. This can also cost the campaign extra money to replace.

Yard signs, much like t-shirts and pins, are an effective way to show personal values, but have little impact on influencing others.

While these signs stay posted for a few months they quickly lose their importance after the Nov. election.  So what are people doing with their signs after the elections?

 Recycle SignSome campaigns are responsible for recollecting the signs after the election. If your sign isn’t collected by the campaign that sold it to you, a good solution is recycling. Some communities start programs to collect the signs while others urge residents to recycle the used signs own their own.

Although political yard signs aren’t the best way to contribute to a campaign, they are a great way to show your neighbors who you support. If you don’t have the extra time or money to put into a campaign, yard signs are the way to go.

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When the Declaration of Independence was signed, politicians were focused on doing their jobs and not worried about what condiments they put on their food. However, in our technologically advanced society some politicians and reporters are more interested in giving viewers, readers and listeners a show than the facts. 

In the past politics has been labeled as boring, but in the past five years that reputation is becoming a thing of the past. In a recent post on Gawker.com liberals are mad at conservatives for poking fun at President Obama. The topic of the story was that President Obama ordered spicy Dijon mustard on his burger.

In other words viewers are tuning in to see what condiments the President likes on his burgers, but does this really matter?  The answer is a definite no. The story has no purpose other than to entertain viewers.

Politicians run our country, make our laws and now they are expected to entertain us as well.Radio microphone

In a more recent political entertainment story, Rush Limbaugh read excerpts from what he believed was President Obama’s college thesis paper to his audience.

The story started a month ago, when a blogger wrote a fake news story about how Time Magazine’s Joe Klein had found ten pages of  Barack Obama’s thesis paper. In the fake thesis there were arguments about how the Constitution was inherently flawed.

After Rush Limbaugh and Michael Ledeen reported the story on the radio and in the blogosphere, it went viral.

Apparently Limbaugh discovered that the story was a hoax about half way through his broadcast. He covered his tracks by using the fake but accurate defense.

When Joe Klein heard about the story he added a post on Swampland, saying that it was nonsense.
The story that was intended to be a satire went viral because the public is driven by entertainment. If the story fooled Ledeen and Limbaugh, how is the public supposed to be able to determine what is fact and what is entertainment?

Many people are only interested in news that has some sort of entertainment value. I’m not surprised the story took very little time before it went viral.

Most citizens couldn’t tell you what happened last week in the world of politics, but a large percentage of those people could tell you about Obama’s fake thesis, so what’s the difference?

The problem is that most people have only a few newspapers, radio stations, TV shows or social media sites that they get the majority of their information from. Most of these sites aren’t going to report about what congress did last week unless the program has an emphasis on politics. So in general the public doesn’t know much about the intricate workings of the political system.

Film Clapper BoardHowever, when a political story has some entertainment components, more news stations are likely to run the story. This results in more readers, viewers and listeners. In the instance regarding the fake Obama thesis the entertainment value was the reasoning behind why the story went viral.

The sad fact is that the public is only receiving a small percentage of political news. The public needs to be informed about more important issues than spicy Dijon mustard and a fake college thesis. The reality is that the public probably won’t think about politics until the next entertainment story.

I am more confident in this concept than ever as the worlds first political entertainment network is about to launch.

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Social Media LandscapeOver the past few years social media has become a major influencer of public opinion. More people are using social media as a way to find news and information about topics that interest them. This increased use of social media tools has created a new way for politicians to reach their constituents and address important issues.

Many politicians have jumped on the band wagon of social media users after realizing the benefits.social networking Social media can help politicians better understand, respond to and attract attention of their target audience.

When politicians choose to start a social media campaign, they should be prepared to handle the frequent updates that will keep subscribers happy. Worse than not using social media would be creating a social media site but failing to update the site with current information.

When creating a social media campaign there are four major social media sites that should be targeted first.

Blogs

A blog is an online diary that includes articles, writings, photos and Web links. Blogs can be easily updated with current information and news. Blogs are a great campaign tool because they are easy to follow and give readers updates about campaign progress.

Twitter

Twitter is great for short messages, event updates, blog post pushes and breaking news.  It allows a campaign to instantly send a message to followers.

Facebook

Facebook is a social networking site that allows users to communicate with friends and coworkers. Users can post pictures, add videos, send mass messages and interact. Facebook can also be used as a  tool to calculate the number of people following a campaign.

Flickr

Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application. With over 30 million monthly visitors this is a great way to share photos of campaigns and events.

Social media sites allow politicians to connect with their followers and organize their campaign. For best results, once the four major social media sites are created they should be closely monitored and updated frequently. Some politicians have a staff member that monitors all social media sites along with updating and maintaining the politician’s sites.

social networking communitySocial media sites should complement each other when used as part of a campaign. The messages on each site should be consistent with all other sites used as part of the campaign.

Last year’s presidential election is an example of one of the most successful political campaigns that used social media techniques. Barack Obama used a completely integrated campaign of TV, radio, Web and social media. The reason why the campaign was successful is because these tools were used together. No one tool can create a successful campaign by itself.

Social media alone cannot win an election and the outcome ultimately comes down to the candidate’s appeal and the campaign’s resources.

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Man holding happy faceAs technology advances more Americans are expecting perfection. Not only from cell phones, cars and televisions, but also from politicians. Constituents expect their politicians to be well dressed, personable and knowledgeable. However, the expectations go beyond social skills. Politicians today are expected to deliver flawless speeches on demand.  The pressure from society has left our government leaders with only one choice, use a teleprompter.

Politician using a teleprompter

Politician using a teleprompter

Teleprompters are a display device that feed politicians visual images of text in their speech. These devices are similar to those used to feed news anchors scripts during broadcasting. The invention of the teleprompter has allowed politicians to appear flawless while giving speeches. Many politicians rely on these devices to meet the high expectations society has placed on them.

Teleprompters allow politicians to customize their speeches. The heartfelt speeches that viewers think they are getting are actually a scripted display where pauses, waves and emotion can be added for emphasis.

President Barack Obama has almost mastered the use of teleprompters. In fact he is so accustomed to using them that he never gives a speech without one. Carol E. Lee comments on Obama’s use of teleprompters in her article Obama’s safety net: the TelePrompter.

“They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks.”

However teleprompters, like humans, aren’t perfect.  These machines are subject to malfunctions which can leave politicians to deliver a speech based soley on memory. Obama himself showed us what can happen when a teleprompter fails. Perfectly choreographed speeches can become difficult to follow within seconds.

One problem associated with teleprompters is the lack of connection speakers have with their audience. During Obama’s inaugural address he has little eye contact with the audience. Obama is continually moving his head from side to side to read the teleprompter, this causes a lack of sincerity in his speech. Eye contact is a behavioral skill that can impact how a viewer reacts to a speech. A lack of eye contact can leave viewers unsatisfied.

Obama using a teleprompter

Obama using a teleprompter

If teleprompters were used correctly they would be unnoticed. The problem is politicians are relying too heavily upon these devices to help deliver their speeches. Speeches should be personable, not something designed for entertainment.

I would rather see a politician give an imperfect speech without the use of a teleprompter, than a politician give a flawless speech with the use of a teleprompter.  The use of a teleprompter dehumanizes a politicians message, and disconnects the audience from the speaker.

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