After a hugely entertaining week of viewing the Republican National Convention and perusing the free Internet for analysis of the proceedings, I am throughly convinced that the Republican party has finally thrown in the towel as far as informed debate is concerned. It used to be that politicians had to have a solid platform, and were expected to answer tough questions and be accountable for their statements. No, my humble readers, it is an unfortunate reality of our current political landscape that this is no longer the case.
The political strategy du jour is that everyone’s vote is for sale. The amount of money being spent on political campaigns has always been on the steady rise but it wasn’t until after Nixon’s sweaty debate, and the rise of pervasive mass media in the late 1980s, that the idea of one’s image being more important than one’s policies really began to take off.
The last presidential election was the single most expensive race ever recorded in U.S. history, at around $1.4 billion dollars, and there is every indication that this year we will be going for the gold, making a new world record. If you spend some time checking up on websites like opensecrets.org or even go brutally deep at fec.gov (Federal Election Commission) you can see exactly who is spending money on what candidates and that information should be enough to decide your vote this season. While the #1 top donor to candidate Barack Obama is our beloved University of California followed by Microsoft and Google, Mitt Romney’s top donor list includes the likes of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan & Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America; a list that reads like the who’s-who of government bailout recipients and corporate criminals responsible for this nation’s most destructive recession since 1929.
Forecast, Political Ad Spending, 2008 versus 2012. Source.
I can’t count the number of articles I have read lambasting Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan for their lies leading up to this convention, and their acceptance speeches were no different. Who writes these speeches? The most notable lie that Ryan spouted out was his assertion that Barack Obama was responsible for the closure of a GM plant in his hometown of Gainesville, Wisconsin; but that happened in December of 2008 during the Republican Party’s rule, before Obama was even elected. The Republican party would like to blame Obama as well for the $700 billion dollar, no-strings-attached rescue package that George W. Bush shoved down Congress’s throat, and even for the Afghan war itself, as Clint Eastwood hilariously asserted during a conversation with the imaginary sitting president.
There are many more punches to be thrown but I won’t bore my readers with those; you only have to Google “Republican campaign lies.” In fact romneytheliar, a great blog, categorically lists and sources the hundreds of lies the Republican running mates have told during this short and colorful campaign. So why is it that the Republican Party isn’t even sweating this coverage? It was best explained by one of Romney’s own campaign aides, Neil Newhouse, when he admitted “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” They simply don’t care.
A new study just released by Borell Associates has predicted that the total amount of money spent in political advertising this campaign season will reach up to $9.8 billion. This includes the unreported dollars that will be spent, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision regarding Citizens United, which opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate campaign contributions. To help put this in perspective, that’s more than three times the amount USAID spent in 2010 on food aid and assistance to developing countries around the world.
While the 2012 presidential race may actually end up setting the all-time high record for campaign spending, the Republican party is about to find out the hard way that, even though they are betting on this, our votes are not for sale. We are rapidly approaching the point at which no matter how much money you spend trying to confuse voters with biased and in some cases outright scandalous campaign advertisements, the truth is something you just can’t hide anymore. Read a political blog, Google an issue you are interested in – we are now empowered with the tools we need to research these issues ourselves. You can’t buy the Internet, you can’t stop the flow of information, and in the end, democracy will indeed prevail.