On the Public Broadcast System last night, two political strategists were interviewed as part of an analysis of the tsunami of money washing down on the presidential candidates for 2012. Fueled as much as anything by the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, the injection of funds, both men seemed to agree, would amount to something around $1 billion to win/buy the presidential election.
This situation has endless facets over which endless groups and individuals can wring their hands in dismay. But the part that banged my chimes last night was this:
When the two men, one leaning Democrat, the other leaning Republican, were asked what all that money would be spent on, both agreed that largest portion would be spent on advertising -- television, radio, newspaper, Internet ... advertising. Advertising is the single most expensive component of running for election.
And when asked what sort of advertising that might be, both seemed to agree that the advertising would be negative -- attacking their opponent with whatever verbal ammo they could muster. Neither President Barack Obama nor Republican challenger Mitt Romney was likely to spend money on detailing a program or vision for the nation both would like to head up.
The fact (and I take it as fact) that neither has the courage or substance to stand up and take a stand is a saddening description of the United States. There are probably good strategic reasons for this approach, but the cowardice involved is depressing for the citizens who look to their elected officials for guidance and vision.
Cowardice. Let the merchants loose... the well-manicured, well-spoken, well-educated ... merchants.
I sometimes think I would vote for the candidate who said he was going to bomb the Middle East back into the Stone Age, plaster it with black-top and erect a thousand fast-food stands: At least the candidate would be taking a stand ... however idiotic. But the current state of affairs ranks even lower than the craven idiocy of a war monger.
Against this, against that, against the other ... but where do you stand, what are you in favor of ... what are you in favor of despite the pitfalls and errors that might evolve?
It is despicable. And in its wake, the country itself devolves into a despicable status.
Perhaps both candidates could do us the kindness of taking off the American-flag lapel pins that merchants wear as a means of asserting their palpably suspect patriotism.
Gutless ... small ... merchants with their merchandising.
I imagine we can all take a personal lesson from this sort of all-saddle-and-no-horse posturing.