Ronald Reagan showed how to more deliberately apply the techniques of passive-engagement communications to politics.
After Jimmy Carter's electoral success with a largely personal form of iconography, Ronald Reagan showed the political establishment how such powerful symbolism and imagery could be more consciously crafted and harnessed, based on what the media world had already discovered about the uses of passive-engagement communications for advertising.
Reagan and his handlers almost intuitively understood the first principle of passive-engagement communication, to avoid tangling with the mental "watchdog" of conscious reasoning. Accordingly, as President, Reagan limited his official contact with the press to photo opportunities and the briefest possible sound bites. More extended give-and-take with reporters would have gotten Reagan into the more diluted, less powerful realm of claims and counter-claims based on logical reasoning and critical evaluation.
In order for Reagan's technique to work, he needed a certain amount of control over his interactions with the media. As President, he inherently had this, and needed merely to perfect the techniques of asserting it.
As a candidate, he could only achieve this kind of control by purchasing sufficient airtime. This required that he raise a great deal of money.
Reagan recognized and met the challenge.
(c) COPYRIGHT 1998 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.