I’ve no quarrel with governments advertising to make people aware of programs and services, to encourage socially useful behaviour, and to build knowledge around important national issues.
But these days the government seems addicted to spending our money to shape our mood. They want voters to feel good about the way things are. And worried about how they would be if another party was running things.
There is no truth in politics.
There is framing, there is messaging, there is crisis response, but these things are all about controlling the narrative. Theoretically, politics is Socratic; everyone speaks their spin and between the messages presented, people can discern the truth. It's a little bit like saying laissez-faire capitalism is the best way to solve poverty.
If you are a political operative - particularly a successful one - this reality is gospel, so deeply engrained as to be subconscious. The truth doesn't matter; what the people believe and doubt does.
There's a great quote from the favourite movie of a former leader: A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.
Don't feel too resentful about this. The truth is, politics wouldn't be that way if we demanded more of it. But to demand more of politics requires us to be more informed, more engaged, more involved and frankly, we just don't have the time.
Here's the problem.
Politics is about winning, not about governing. Governing has become about winning, too - feeding the short-term cycle of narrow focuses and picked fights that accrue half-policies and quarter-commitments over time.
Our democratic system has been dying from a thousand cuts for some time now, and by disassociating ourselves with the process - government is employees, paid for by our tax dollars, don't you know - we have been self-inflicting these wounds.
We're seeing the impact of this societal abuse now. The platform is catching fire. Yet still, we point fingers, call for heads and never ask why the problems persist no matter who is in power. We can keep getting mad at the people who have become so disconnected from mainstream society that they cannot see the consequences of their choices, but that accomplishes nothing.
Answer me this, though: how can they keep from spinning unless the public chooses to ground them?