Sunday, February 18, 2007

Campaign Two-Thousand Eight

So the race to be the next President of the United States of America is on. Conventional Wisdom says that when it's all said and done, the winner of the race might have spend upwards of one hundred million dollars to get their message out the voters.

I have a hard time with that number. One hundred million dollars is an awful lot of money. Where could it all possibly be going? Why do you need to spend that much capital?

At first, I thought that a level of expenditure that high would surely be a liability to whomever won in the end. People would see all of the money that they spend as an investment that was being made by the people who donated funds to their campaigns - people who would expect to see some return on that investment. Okay so some party loyalist in Middle America isn't going to be thinking that they're going to directly get anything tangible for the two-hundred dollar check that they wrote out to this candidate or that political action committee, but the wealthy corporations, organizations and individuals that are ponying up many thousands of dollars? People are going to believe that they're expecting a little quid pro quo. This is the same reason why lobbying reform became big. The appearance of impropriety can be as bad, if not worse, than the fact of impropriety. So if it's going to encourage people to think that you're corrupt, why take the money?

I was taking with a friend of mine about the campaign, and she was telling me about what she liked about Senator Barak Obama. He's the correct political party (Democrat) and philosophical bent (liberal). From what she knows of his policy positions, she likes them, and she feels that he's "electable." And from what she knows if him and his history, he's a great guy on a personal level. But she expressed reservations about voting for him - because he smokes. Now I understand that she's a public health worker and advocate, and that smoking just isn't cool anymore, but basing one's choice for President on that? But voting for a smoker just didn't feel right to her.

And that's where one hundred million dollars is going to go. Into creating a message that will make people feel comfortable in voting for a candidate on an emotional level. Who knew that feelings were so expensive?

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