It was Mark Twain who dryly noted that Americans have the best government money can buy. He died in 1910, almost penniless from investing in the next wishful thinking best-thing.
BILLION DOLLAR BABIES
In the case of what money can buy, the President and Gov. Mitt Romney are shaping up to be royal beauties. With few, to no-rules; President Barack Obama has become the first $1 billion candidate in American political history in which he will find himself spent out of that money. Mitt Romney has now raised and spent an equal amount as well. And the Obama and Romney campaigns have certainly not stopped asking for more.
Somehow, many of our senatorial and presidential candidates talk about their need for money and they harangue “the evil rich” but last time I checked the net worth of the top 20 in the House and Senate; even the “poor” lady that came in 20th, was worth over $40 million. I question those acting like the Christ-like selfless servant [or savant] out to help the poor. The poverty rate has remained essentially the same since you politicians began your “war on poverty” [at or around 13% since 1968]. But here is what has NOT remained the same - Spending on Elections!
Only a few years back; Kerry and Bush spent a “paltry” $700 million combined. Yet only 2 election cycles and we have a 286% increase in spending. In a year that we owe almost $17,000,000,000,000… with 47 million on food stamps and 8% unemployment. Now how can that be?
Hey, I just hope that whomever is our next President will be as savvy with the government’s economic situation as they are with raising money for attack ads that have children singing about how the other candidate wants to kill polar bears, having the elderly use stinkin’ foul language and Car ads that seem to omit truths.
NOT TOO LONG AGO
It has been reported that the system of public financing for elections, adopted in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, has been gradually unraveling since 2000, when George W. Bush decided to opt out of it for the primaries to escape the spending caps. He calculated, correctly, that he could raise enough outside the system to outspend his rivals by a big margin. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in 2004, followed suit.
In 2008 Barack Obama broke a promise and made history by becoming the first candidate to forgo public financing limits for both the primary and the general election. He lavished some $730M on his campaign; the public system would have limited him to only $135M. His rival, John McCain, who accepted the public funds for the general-election campaign, spent a total of $333M.
Soft And Syrupy - Nasty and Negative
Did Obama and Romney deliberate upon serious issues of how we should be governed the next four years? Did they really have anything to woo us voters with for the next 4 years? We hear the same clichés each and every year about how one candidate pandered to the zealots during the primaries and now they’re acting the moderate and thus are just a “flip-flopper”. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to just hear some leftist come out both at the primary AND the general and say that they would like to redistribute all wealth OR hear some right winger come out at both the primary and general election and say that a minimally regulated free market without monopolies; has never been tried in the past 100 years, so quit saying that it has already been tried by the last administration. THEN we’d be GAME ON.
Instead, we have one saying in private circles that 47% [it is now up to 49%] get more from the government than they pay in; and another saying, privately, that he doesn’t simply believe in the U.S. redistributing wealth within, but that our nation’s wealth should be spread to all other countries as well. BUT in front of Candy, Bob, and Jim we hear that they both simply want neither of those things and both guys are just out to cut spending -- yet at no cost to you, the general public [and in only subtly nuanced YET different methodologies]. I can’t even pay off a $500 debt without feeling pain.
WHY LIE WHEN YOU CAN EVADE?
There was no lying going on at the debates. Why lie when you can evade. Just confront your adversary and reframe a new narrative. Maybe toss in a story about that one family in Moakie, Idaho that just lost a hog and you empathize with their crisis. One candidate cancelling out the other with clever and calculated data that is sorta true and kinda not.
Now keep the Valium uncorked because in experiments done, politicians who dodged questions but did so in a smooth, practiced fashioned were rated more favorably than those who answered the question straight up, but without purring. I can’t blame ‘em. I get relaxed when my cat purrs. Politicians are better off answering the wrong question while talking like Ricardo Montalban; than being truthful and blunt, talking like Yogi Berra.
Is there room for lying? Define lying? President Clinton forcefully denied he had “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.
In 2003, Colin Powell reported to the UN Security Council that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We called him and Bushy a liar. And now, Syria tells the world that, yes indeed, we did acquire chemical weapons somehow. Well, we’ll see! Maybe Men In Black was correct that sometimes the best news is in the “National Inquirer”.
NEXT TIME …USE RICE [just not Susan …]
There is a cheaper way of getting the candidates to tell the truth at future debates. In ancient India, a crime suspect was given a handful of uncooked rice to chew, then spit out. If the rice was wet and swollen, you had a man without guile -- because a fibber gets an autonomic nervous reaction and dries up in the salivary glands. Would it work today? Some of these guys become flawless at finding continuity within a chameleon -- since truth is relative and the press agrees. Like a fallen Jedi telling a NY Times storm trooper, “these aren’t the droids you are looking for” the press storm trooper then tells cohort, “hey, these aren’t the droids we’re looking for” and another story slips away while Darth Sidious salivates like a Pavlov dog and eats your rice.
WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE STAND FOR
So, they say this campaign is, in part, about some war on women, greed and the economy. President Clinton claims to be worried about the war on women and his party's concern over women’s productive health! Amen… He should know all about the respect for women. Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones and Monica sing his praises daily and can vouch for his exacting and undying concern.
But the “conservative” advocates have not been able to “conserve” our country’s social, political or fiscal ideals and founding principles either. It is perhaps disappointing for a fiscal conservative, that a “tax and spend liberal” president, (Clinton) working with a conservative Congress, was the only one able to balance a budget in recent years. And, it must be an embarrassment to a political conservative, inasmuch as the GOP claims to conserve the intent of the Constitution in limiting government; that the GOP under Bush increased the size and scope of government.
And yet, since I turned 30, I have also lost enthusiasm for the celebrity saint. Like ol’ “Boss” Springsteen. He champions the war against the top earners and yet, ol’ Boss owns more than 200 acres in Colts Neck, New Jersey. And taxes for his house and three acres should be $140,000. But because of tax breaks for farmers, “the Boss” decided to grow a few tomatoes and voila, “I’m a farmer.” Thus, the tax bill on the 200 acres is less than $5,000. Those doggon rich J!
My gut tells me that as soon as the election is over, the celebrity’s charming, patronizing airs will evaporate and we’ll see just how these men will worry about ‘women’s rights’ and the workin’ middle class.
WHAT IS YOUR GUT TELLING YOU?
Instead of getting us closer to truths, the election system is redefining the way some of us make decisions. Too much information, too much data, too many conflicting reports, too many “fact checkers” that need a fact checker to check them… and thus we attempt to simplify and make a stand on just one or two key issues OR we actually BELIEVE the ads and truly think that the other guy is Stalin or Machiavelli incarnate.
Some hope that the crisis regarding our ambassador, four dead Americans, in Libya will hold out until after the election, while others hope it will explode now.
When Margaret Thatcher’s hotel would be greeted with IRA bombs, she would insist on meeting at another part of the hotel not blown up the same day – ‘business as usual’ she’d say. The Iron Lady would be unwilling to allow terrorists to change her plans. The difference between Thatcher and a President today is that she’d continue meetings about governing her country – but unfortunately, our President, in order to compete dollar for dollar, felt compelled to rush to a fund raiser in Las Vegas.
The difference between a Lincoln and a Romney would be not howling at the moon quite so soon – there would have been a ‘period of waiting’ before the critique of our president’s handling of Libya. Even if he was correct in his assumptions, it would have been classier to wait.
But with the game afoot, both candidates throw down “do the right thing” and follow the blood and the money. Is there no other way? Maybe not?
PRAYING FOR YOUR GUY AND THE VIKES
Some of us have just said “Just get my guy in Lord”, and then I’ll persecute him, if he is wrong. That’s as futile as praying ‘It’s Sunday Lord, just let the Vikings win today’ and we’ll worry about paying for the new stadium later. That’s how illogical politics are. Maybe we dislike socialism or greedy people. Then we stamp all that distaste on Obama or Romney’s head and we’re off.
THIRST OF DISTRACTIONS
We have sacrificed much for our thirst of distractions. The daily serving of poison that the media is happy to collect for and advertise; just tunes most of us out. It is choking up our democracy that many, so many have fought hard for. Imagine the WWII vet that came home and looked forward to raising a family in one of those post-war cracker jack sized houses – that some now scoff at as merely a starter home at best? Can you imagine them listening, in earnest, to what WE bellyache about and accuse? “ahh, there, there… you must be such a poor nation to only be able to scrape together 2 billion samolians.” And that’s just the presidential election!
FREEDOM TO GIVE
The real issue is about taking money out of politics, which we know is almost impossible. Is there a way to limit spending that doesn’t send us down the path of even MORE regulation and total control? How can we lighten this load? Even though many donations are from individuals, much comes from conglomerates that one wonders if its individual members even endorse the donation. Who will shine a light on the shadowy world of campaign money?
Right now, I think good citizens on each side are not sure which is more frightening – A] all the money spent for campaigns or B] the fact that citizens may actually vote based on a political ads & believing such media bias.
REVOLUTION OF SPIRIT AND POLITICS
Reformation time is on the protestant Church calendar. It marks a time in history when Martin Luther, Calvin and Knox dissented from the norm. Luther nailed his list of 95 grievances on the church door at Wittenberg. This sparked a revolution not only spiritually but also, politically and fiscally. Luther faced the threat of being ex-communicated and killed. But don’t worry, us Catholics got together and had our own “Counter Reformation” at the Council of Trent immediately afterwards. So, there! But; it got me thinking of the word ‘reformation’…and looking inside each of us for a fundamental change.
A change that is different than the status quo. So if you want something different we need to refocus on what drew us together in the first place. Our desire for freedom back when we didn’t have it! We have it all now and simply create straw men and war on women to fight and grouse about to create multimillion shadow wars that get a lot of us all puffed up upon loosely built scaffolding. In the end, it will have to be a reformation that comes from us. Just like when people complain about NFL player or owner salaries; we are inevitably confronted with the alternative – stop going to the doggon game! But no, we say one thing and do another and the money flows. Or better yet, can I watch it for free on TV AND complain about the salaries?!
IMAGINE HOW THAT MONEY COULD BE USED
So, if this is how our candidates are running their campaigns, perhaps we should NOT trust them with running our economy? But it isn’t that simple is it? How can you change things if you don’t have enough money to run with the big dogs? And once you’re up and running like a big dog, you’re oftentimes not as eager to change anything because this is too much fun being a big dog yourself. Ruff ruff! Human [or even dog] nature is a hard back to break. It will have to be up to the electorate and not the politician.
I reflect on something Emily Dickinson once said, “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves. You can gain more control over your life by paying closer attention to the little things”. We, the electorate are the small thing that takes care.
One person has to begin by softly and confidently saying… no.
Top Obama contributors thus far:
University of California: $1,079,526
Microsoft Corp: $761,343
US Government $614,665
Harvard University $602,992
Top Romney contributors thus far:
Goldman Sachs: $994,139
Bank of America: $921,839
Morgan Stanley: $827,255
Credit Suisse Group $618,941
JP Morgan $792,147