Fall is finally here, which means it's the best time of year for TV. No, not because of the new shows or baseball playoffs or football. We are referring, obviously, to campaign ads, those bite-sized attention-grabbers that would all work as runner-up entries in a "Describe What America, Or Your Worst Nightmare, Looks Like in 30 Seconds" video contest. If TV dramas are our novels, political commercials are the nutritional facts on the side of your cereal box: things you only pay attention to when you have nothing better to do but stare at them.
Just like other inarguably hip mediums of expression, campaign ads tend to circle around a number of trends each cycle. In 2014, every single one seemed to feature a gun — used to shoot either Obamacare, or a drone, or a TV — because shooting things is a great way to telegraph your ability to push for constructive policymaking. There's no obvious ad accessory this year, but a few campaigns have taken creative routes to proving their outsider cred in the exact same way.
Here is our very serious rundown of these important political fashion statements.
1. Show you’re relatable by wearing that blue gingham dress shirt that every man in America owns
Campaign ads don't offer much time to convince voters you understand their lives and the issues important to them. Thankfully, your clothes can silently do some of the work for you. Wearing jeans means, "I am thinking about eating a hamburger right now and believe the right answers for America aren't in Washington, but right here in our backyard." (Most candidates wearing jeans in their ads say the second part of that sentence out loud, which is redundant.)
If you're a guy, you could also just wear that gingham dress shirt that once made the sidewalks of America look like a game of Where's Waldo in which everyone is dressed like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Making this fashion statement proves that you are Of The People, and that you are the perfect candidate for people who are nostalgic for a previous time, specifically a few years ago when the gingham shirt was last trendy.
Let us salute pioneers of this trend, like Jim Gray, who is challenging Kentucky Senator Rand Paul...
...or Evan Bayh, who is running for Senate in Indiana.
If the blue gingham shirt is too exciting for your constituents, a plain blue dress shirt is a conservative alternative. Wearing it is an especially effective political statement if you do so while looking pensively out at an open road, like Idaho Senator Mike Crapo...
...or Texas Representative Will Hurd.
2. Prove you’re an outsider by showcasing your non-political skills.
It's not a good year for people with political experience. Many candidates seem to be dealing with this by not mentioning their political background at all in campaign ads, instead emphasizing skills that will definitely come in handy in D.C. or a state capitol near you. Like, uh, being able to reach bipartisan consensus by wrestling people into submission, as WWE star Terrance Gerin, a.k.a. Rhino, can do.
Or knowing how to do surgery on people's eyes...
...climb wind turbines...
...chop wood in slow-motion...
...shoot things until they explode...
...or perhaps be able to assemble a gun blindfolded.
3. Stage a one-act play
For this, be sure to hire an actor to play your opponent. It will be twice as effective if you soundtrack it with the music used for when a couple dances for the first time in an opposites-attract rom-com. Use the monologue from Glengarry Glen Ross as inspiration, but make sure to be 100 percent more boring.
If you don't have money to hire an actor, just use a cardboard cutout.
4. Try Forrest Gumping.
Forrest Gumping (v.): The act of inserting yourself into history with consequential actors in order to make yourself seem more important.
5. Just make a movie trailer instead
At least people might be more likely to watch it? These very fancy campaign ads are also more fun if you turn the sound off. For example, without words, this NRA ad looks like a trailer for a Back to the Future–esque horror film. It appears that the house of a time-traveler spy is being invaded? After learning that her phone is disconnected, she starts to go into her safe, before it suddenly disappears because another time traveler has mucked up history and whatever weapon was in the safe no longer exists.
You can also take an already beloved movie and just point out all the reasons you are exactly like that movie character. (Warning: Comparing yourself to Harrison Ford will probably not make you look cooler.)
6. Make lazy jokes featuring your name or your opponent’s.
I mean, if it's just lying there, you might as well use it once. But only once.