Instead of candidates hiring people like yours truly, to create campaign media that works on both conscious and subconscious levels to sway the voting public, what if all TV ads were, by law, only allowed to feature the candidate, with, say, the American flag as the backdrop, alone, speaking directly to the camera? Perhaps the words also subtitled on the bottom of the frame. No music, no graphs, no cut-away shots of disturbing or sentimental images. Only the candidate, talking to us, the voters.
Level the playing field. Don't make election popularity largely a matter of which candidate hires the most creative and effective propagandists. Insist that it be, instead, a running conversation with the public.
It would cost less, and the candidates might actually choose to spend fewer dollars if all they could do was talk to us. And instead of cleverly engineered negative ads snidely attacking other candidates, if they wanted to sling mud at an opponent, they'd have to look us in the eye and speak the words.
It might tone down some of the antagonistic rhetoric as well. Civility during elections could even promote a greater willingness from our elected officials to adopt a more bipartisan problem-solving approach.
I suppose the election cycles would be less interesting TV for us at home, but I suspect it would keep the issues and the candidates' ability to express their ideas about their differences and similarities front and center.
Certainly, the question of whether campaign finance reform is needed would remain. But perhaps the ads, whatever the play cycle, would be a truer reflection of the candidates and their positions.