2012 Hopefuls Making Love to the Money
There’s an election happening in 19 months, which means it’s time to make it rain on a bunch of old white people and one or two black guys.
Yes, our ever-extending election cycle is upon us again. Perhaps it never left; America is at the age where it needs a lot of foreplay if the night is going to go anywhere.
The dominant 2012 narrative will be the embattled, first-ever African American president seeking reelection against a cabal of conservative challengers who will try to prove he kicked the economy while it was down. By all means, get your popcorn and fill out your brackets.
But whether you’ve got a dog in the fight, or you’re just excited at the prospect of more juicy Sarah Palin interviews, players on both sides of the aisle are going to give us a couple billion more reasons to be disappointed.
Barack Obama is about to formally announce his plans for reelection, which is kind of like a teenager telling his parents that he wants to have sex; we know, we’ve known, just don’t do anything stupid. The sitting president, who raised a mind-numbing $750 million for his 2008 run, is expected to seek $1 billion in fundraising this time around—approximately the GDP of Djibouti.
Meanwhile, who but the Koch brothers have pledged to raise $88 million for an anyone-but-Obama campaign? The Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads group set their own bar at $130 million. Combined, that’s already enough money to buy every single American under the poverty line a sandwich at Arby’s. Did I mention it’s not even April yet?
The GOP’s bottom line has been given the ballpark figure of half a billion dollars. This estimate likely does not include all the imminent fundraising efforts of the Republican maybes, a group so large they could start their own softball team.
Washington is acting like a stripper in a Ying Yang Twins video. For all politicians’ talk of the economic downturn, the plight of the American family, the need to tighten our belts, etc., these guys are finding no shortage of people willing to pony up stacks come election season, mostly in the hopes of securing some favors. Goldman Sachs, United Auto Workers, AT&T, the National Education Association—all are in the top 20 all-time donors from 1989-2010. Campaign finance is neither wholly Republican or Democrat, public or private, worker or owner.
Call me old-fashioned, but a combined $1.5 billion in campaign spending seems far too high a price tag for the White House. I would be extremely interested in a study on the economic impact of campaign contributions, which I have yet to find. Donating to a candidate is like putting your money on double zero at the roulette table; if it doesn’t win, your chips bought nothing. Sure, campaigns employ people, contract media production companies, etc., but if businesses would just use their donated money to fucking hire some people instead, wouldn’t that be a better use of resources?
Then big businesses, which have been sitting on over a trillion dollars in cash reserves, have the nerve to claim they don’t want to use the money because of our climate of “economic uncertainty.” Economic uncertainty? What’s less certain than donating to political causes, essentially placing a bet? I’ll take an employee over a politician any day of the week.
Ours is a politics of message, not substance; money, not meat. Campaign figures like these should make us wonder who’s getting the bang for all this buck.