The Price Tag of Politics

 Posted by at 19:01  Politics
Feb 212010

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.



May 242009

I used to be a faithful viewer of NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday mornings, but I have somehow lost interest since David Gregory took over. I will sometimes catch ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, but George has always struck me as an opportunistic weasel. I can’t watch Fox’s Fox News Sunday for a couple of reasons – I don’t really care for Fox News and I think Chris Wallace is one of the least bright people on television. So, more or less by default, I usually find myself watching CBS’s Face the Nation.

Bob Schieffer’s guest this morning was General Colin Powell. I hope that not many Republicans were watching, because General Powell was actually making sense. That’s a rare commodity among Republicans these days. This business of a Republican making sense frightens me more than just a bit because if more Republicans start making sense, more Americans are going to start listening them and the Republican party will once again become a force in American politics. When that happens, the extreme right wing of the party is just going to take over like they did last time and the United States will again be subjected to a lot of damage.

In reality, though, what do you think the chances are that the extremist Cheney/Limbaugh/Gingrich wing of the Republican party is going to listen to an intelligent man like Colin Powell? I don’t think we have much to fear. In that spirit, I feel fairly safe in posting the video of the general’s interview from this morning…

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