Monday, November 8, 2010

Let Them Eat Negative Ads

I don't know any voters, Republican, Democrat or Independent, who thinks the harvest of negative campaign advertising was worth the estimated $4 billion spent. Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, we don't even know who funded many of the ads. This is a travesty. I frequently write letters to the editor, and I am required to sign my name to them. Signing your name is part of the deal in free speech. Apparently it's OK with a majority of Supreme Court justices to allow corporations and labor unions, in the name of free speech, to anonymously donate to national and local political campaigns.

When Don and I lived in Vermont, we went to a candidates' night where then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (now a senator) said something I'll never forget. In terms of the federal budget, expenditures in the millions of dollars are chump change. It's only when they cross over into the billions that it matters.

All righty, then. So much for investors not having major money to spend on investing in businesses. The 2008 campaigns, which included the costliest presidential campaign in history, cost around $2 billion. Four billion dollars could have gone a long way toward investing in new and established businesses and industries in every congressional district. I'm sure there are rules about how campaign funds can be spent, and they surely don't include investing in businesses (unless you're in the advertising biz). Governor-elect John Hickenlooper is a notable exception of a candidate who didn't go negative in his ads. Then again, when you have Larry and Curly as your opponents, who needs advertising at all?

This is a great country. I'm sure there are ways for candidates, whether incumbent or challenger, to show  voters what they can do to create jobs in their districts. In my congressional district, there are worthwhile alternative energy concerns that could have used the more than $32 million that was spent statewide on campaigning. Whatever's left over could be used to pay for ads explaining to voters what candidates have done to strengthen the job base in their districts.

Karl Rove has famously said that negative ads work. For whom? Voters can't drink enough Pepto-Bismol to make it through the next round of toxic waste he and his cronies are already planning. 

In the meantime, this voter would love to see an ad from any candidate that talks specifically how they worked with industry to create jobs.

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