I used to be a big fan of the Sunday morning network political gabfests. Not so much anymore. These shows have become little more than an opportunity for the Washington insiders to sit around stroking each others’ egos. You and I have better things to do with our time.
However, Bob Schieffer’s closing comments on CBS’ Face the Nation caught my ear this morning. I am always amazed when people complain that the politicians in Washington aren’t listening to them. My reply to these people is always to get out their checkbooks… and don’t be stingy with the zeroes. Politics in the 21st century is a money game, and with the recent Supreme Court decision granting First Amendment rights to corporations it is only going to get worse. Money rules, so it only follows that those with the money are going to rule. It amazes me that so many people are taking so long to realize this.
Anyway, the old man from Fort Worth hit the nail on the head this morning. Here’s the transcript of his comments. Video follows.
When the amateurs ask me – and by amateurs I mean the good citizens outside the circle of professional politics – when they ask me why Washington doesn’t seem to listen when every poll shows that people hate partisanship and want compromise, I tell them, ‘The professional politicians always listen. They listen to the people who gave them the money to get to Washington.’
American politics used to be an amateur sport, but somewhere along the way, we handed over to professionals all the things people used to do for free.
So an enormous cottage industry sprang up – consultants, gurus, strategists, pollsters who discovered it was easier to win elections by driving wedges between people than bringing them together.
Politics got nastier, and – worse – it came with a price.
Did it ever!
The Center for Responsive Politics says the 2008 campaigns cost $5.3 billion. Good money if you can get it and, full disclosure, TV got a lot of it.
It cost an average $8.5 million to win a seat in the Senate. In Minnesota, Norm Coleman spent $20 million and lost.
On average, a Senate candidate had to raise $3,881 a day for every day of a six-year term. Only those willing to do that run any more.
So to raise that kind of money, candidates must promise so much to so many, that before they get to Washington, once here, they can’t compromise on anything – their positions are set in stone.
So they’re listening all right, but like the loyal country girl, they’re just listening to them that brung ’em.