Politics just got uglier. I didn’t think it was possible, but 2010 brought us the Super PAC. This is no superhero to save American citizens from voter fraud or smear campaigns. A Super PAC is a new-fangled group that can bankroll unlimited amounts of money with few restrictions to support a candidate or attack an opponent. The only stipulation is that the Super PAC cannot be in cahoots with the candidates or their parties. Any time we throw more money at campaigns means bad news in my book. Ironic that the same people who think throwing money at society’s problems are so quick to throw money at their own political problems.
As it is, campaign spending is obscene. As of January 8, 2012, there are 269 Super PACs who have raised $32,008,813 and spent $18,941,067 in the 2012 presidential race. Every politician and political party is guilty of basically burning money, or at least burning through it. In fact, Wake County, North Carolina, where I live, recently experienced a record amount of money spent on a local election -- for the school board. Candidates spent upwards of $50,000 to win a seat on the controversial Wake County school board. Parties and interest groups on both sides of the spectrum spent over half a million dollars in attack ads. The school board is supposed to be non-partisan, and our school system has faced devastating budget cuts, yet politicos think it’s perfectly acceptable to spend $500,000 on negative advertising. For a school board race.
You can imagine how much exponentially worse this will be in the presidential election in 2012. Super PACs have the potential to dig into issues and enlighten voters. But let’s be honest, that’s not what is happening. Instead, the added monetary fuel is igniting negative attack ads and detracting from the real issues at hand. Just stop and listen to water cooler chatter for a few minutes. Most people are spending wasting their time discussing a candidate’s personal life from two decades ago rather than meaningful issues that affect the American public today. We get sucked into the negativity and lose sight of the issues that drive us to ask hard questions. All by design? Possibly.
This super spending is hurting all Americans and making us get mired in the negative rhetoric. We don’t stop to examine our own lives and values. Instead we focus on petty disputes that don’t necessarily shed light on a candidate’s character. And yes, character is indeed important. We are after all, electing a leader to represent us. Sometimes Super PAC spending uncovers hidden truths that were buried for good reason. Sometimes these Super PACs simply spread malicious nonsense that isn’t salient to the country’s issues. With or without these Super PACs, campaign spending in America is excessive. We’re quick to spend money on image and media and vitriolic messages but cannot feed and educate and care for our own people. I don’t see anything super about that.
This post is part of a weekly conversation with our 5 Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. Read the original question and find links to all their responses here: Who Do Negative Campaign Ads Hurt Most?
Image via Lisa Yarost, Wikimedia Commons