October 16, 2010
Money may not be the root of all evil, but it sure is threatening to destroy our democracy. There is a limited supply of broadcast minutes for television and radio advertising. The bandwidth for voices heard “in the public square” should not simply go to the highest bidder.
At the very least, the purveyors of political sleaze should be prohibited from operating behind a veil of contributor secrecy. Corporate deep pockets have the potential to suck all the oxygen out of the room, leaving no affordable ad time for dissenting points of view. And boy, howdy, aren’t they trying hard to do it during this, their first untrammeled opportunity?
Based on the current crop of corporate-funded attack ads, the focus group-tested slams and carefully chosen background musical themes have taken fear and loathing to new and unsightly depths. The cringe factor is ginormous. However, mindful of its own bottom line, reliable, balanced truth-parsing by the media rarely occurs. Even when ads have been outed as particularly egregious smears, they continue to run if the checks clear. No holds barred.
Ultimately, I trust the American people to grasp the resulting skew and adapt their voting patterns to correct for it, but we are headed into the rapids, rough waters to be sure, in the near term. Difficult decisions with complex trade-offs must be made correctly, and with some urgency. In a fragile and hostile world, concerned citizens seeking to govern themselves wisely are ill-served by this collossal waste of financial resources.