I heard my first locally broadcast presidential political campaign ad this week. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last. The campaign season is shaping up to be long, expensive and nasty.
The one I heard is this 30 second Obama Campaign TV spot that begins…
“I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message” – Mitt Romney Sings “America the Beautiful“
Conduct unbecoming the President of the United States of America was my first reaction. False and misleading was the second.
I’m sure we’ll all be subjected to thousands of disgusting negative ads from both sides. They’ll come from the traditional official campaign organizations, sleazy unaccountable non-profits, unions, SuperPACs and who knows where else.
The two or three billion spent on them this year would be better applied paying down about half a day’s worth of federal government deficit spending.
Normally, I’d track down the truth and tell folks what it is. I’m not gonna bother. It takes to long to weed out the predictable lies from both political camps.
Its a safe bet that upwards of 100% of both Romney and Obama negative ads will be false. Why bother verifying that? Voters gullible enough to believe them wouldn’t be swayed by actual truth anyway.
Take the Obama ad, for example. A recent opinion poll said the biggest fear of about 76% of American voters this year is jobs being lost because they are shipped oversees. Its a valid fear. The United States has lost its competitive edge in the global marketplace.
What we should be hearing are ideas how to make America competitive again.
So what is in the negative ad? Yup! Three claims Romney shipped jobs overseas. That was followed by three implied claims Romney is committing tax fraud… a federal crime.
And all that while I was subjected to a bad version of “America the Beautiful” sung by Mitt Romney.
Real classy stuff.
The Way to Fix a Broken System
The only thing really wrong with American politics is money.
Millions to billions spent by special interest groups to buy elections is not how democracy should work. It corrupts not just elections, but the function of government at every level.
The problem, though, is that the folks who get paid to fix that problem are the primary beneficiaries of a broken system. The FEC is little more than a bad joke.
The obvious solution is to take the money out of the electoral process… ALL the money.
Make it illegal for any person, including the candidate themselves, to raise and spend money on campaigns. That includes rich billionaires, unions and so-called “corporate person-hood”.
It would require Congress to pass a law signed by the President to make it happen. Congress would then budget for elections and define a fair, equitable way to divvy up the campaign funds among qualified candidates. Only official, FEC-registered campaigns headed by the individual candidate would be dispersed audited public funds and authorized to spend it… and not a penny more.
Just like now, campaigns could chose to waste their allotted funds anyway they want. Government, communities and the media would cooperate to give all candidates equal opportunity to be heard. The high and mighty would get the same amount of TV time as the lowly unknowns.
The barrage of negative ads we will be subjected to should be ruled cruel and unusual punishment by the Supreme Court and everyone involved in making them rounded up and thrown in jail until after November 6th.
Unfortunately, real campaign reform will never happen. Voters won’t commit themselves to stand up and demand it.
As long as that remains true then we will all be subjected to the cyclic political nightmare of negative campaigning that is in our immediate future.