Clint Eastwood’s Halftime Commercial Gets Undeserved Backlash

Chrysler Commercial Isn’t a Veiled Endorsement but a Lesson in Being American

Clint+Eastwoods+new+Chrysler+ad+incites+controversy.+%28Courtesy+of+YouTube%29

Clint Eastwood’s new Chrysler ad incites controversy. (Courtesy of YouTube)

By RYAN O’TOOLE

Clint Eastwood’s new Chrysler ad incites controversy. (Courtesy of Chrysler/YouTube)

Super Bowl XLVI clocked 111 million viewers, making it the most watched event in television history. During the middle of the game, a commercial for Chrysler featuring Clint Eastwood aired. Entitled “Halftime in America,” the ad immediately struck a chord with tens of millions of viewers and also ignited a political storm.

Since the ad is focused on the American automobile industry’s recent resurgence, many believed the commercial was a veiled endorsement of Barack Obama. In the summer of 2009, Obama bailed out the auto industry and essentially rescued it. Yet the petty back-and-forth that surrounded the advertisement is uncalled for and is indicative of what is wrong with America right now.

The advertisement is not partisan at all. Eastwood has been correct in the week following the Super Bowl to not endorse any political candidate or party and to try to remain out of the fray. The commercial is so resonant because it hews away from party identification and instead focuses on what matters: our shared identity as Americans.

Eastwood says during the ad that past economic downturns have been synonymous with “times that we didn’t understand each other.” Often our country falls into crisis when opposing parties stop listening to each other and refuse to compromise. I fear the United States is in the midst of one of those periods.

Eastwood continues, saying “division, discord and blame” are rampant in today’s society, which is true.  The news media and pundit elite spew rhetoric and argue 24/7.  Our politicians consistently point fingers, refuse to take responsibility for their actions or problems and are unwilling to join together to address the massive problems that face our country.

However, much of the blame can be placed on us as a people for allowing this intensification of partisanship to happen.  Likewise, though, we are our own solution.

As Eastwood crescendos towards the finale of the ad, he says what matters now is “what lies ahead” and how “we come together,” and these words could not be more true for our contemporary culture. A fascinating movement called Americans Elect has adopted this mantle of unity.

Americans Elect is a nonprofit that is trying to nominate a moderate candidate that will speak above party and directly for the people. It is trying to launch the first-ever online nomination for a presidential candidate. The nonprofit gives all Americans the opportunity to become a delegate and select a centrist candidate for president. After selecting a presidential nominee, they would then choose a vice presidential candidate from a different party, showing that unity and compromise is the best way to give the American people a voice.

We should be able to have an honest, open and adult conversation about what the best policies for our country are, not try to score political points.

As the Chrysler commercial correctly says, this, unlike football, “is not a game.” But America is one team. Do you think Tom Brady cared if Rob Gronkowski shared his opinions on tax policy? Or Eli Manning worried about Mario Manningham’s stance on the war in Afghanistan? No. What mattered at the Super Bowl, and what matters for us as Americans, is that we put our trust in each other and work as a team to bring this country to victory. Together.