Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Campaigns: Lots of Loot, Rarely Reality

Family matters kept me away from my writing for several months and now I return to what should be normalcy but find myself in the midst of a reelection campaign. Every evening I return home to find an answering machine loaded with robo-calls and a mailbox stuffed with materials from candidates and their PACs.  

All this communication is saying absolutely nothing. No one can hear a clear message in the din. I have to vote today and, frankly, I wish there were a "D - None of the above" option on the ballot.  Practically every candidate running, whether for a national or a local position, has irritated the heck out of me by constantly badgering me.

I am not the only one who feels this way. Plenty of polls indicate that the American people feel our campaigns are too long, too nasty, and too expensive.  In 2008, Americans spent over $5 BILLION on getting elected.  What an indictment of our system.  We complain about the national debt and yet we allow candidates to spend like crazy to get to a place where they can spend even more. What do we communicate to them by letting them spend so much to get a job that is supposedly public service?

Getting back to what the candidates are telling us - I made myself listen to a couple of the speeches and watch some of the commercials.  I heard of lot of empty promises.  The candidates are betting that the American people are so uneducated that they don't realize the president or governor cannot do most of what the candidates are promising. Only the legislative branches can pass laws to accomplish those things. On a local level, I heard similar things from candidates: lots of promises they cannot legally or logistically fulfill. 

For example, a candidate for a local board position is campaigning on solving the national debt.  By making that her platform, she is telling me she has no plan at all for solving our local problems. Using the emotions tied to the national campaign and copying those promises, she is using political sleight-of-hand to distract me from her lack of attention to our local issues. No communication can be as powerful as too much. This same candidate, in saying nothing about the local situation and her plans to resolve it, is telling me that the problems of a town of 20,000 aren't exciting enough for her. She wants to be on the national stage.

If we can stand to wade through the nonsense of this election campaign, we would all do well to listen to what is not being said.  Candidates are spending whatever is necessary and saying whatever it takes to get themselves a job. In doing so, they tell their electorate that money is no object and the truth is irrelevant.

I wonder if the people have figured all this out yet?  I certainly hope so.