Sunday, June 10, 2012

Can America Justify Spending Over $1.5 billion on the Presidential Campaign?

We often see criticism in the press of how youngsters misuse Twitter, for example, to make rude and insulting comments about people they may or may not know – yet we mustn’t forget that most of the $1.5 billion (or more) that will be spent on the Presidential campaign is for advertising that ‘attacks’ their oppositions ‘credibility’ and can be really ruthless and insulting. And this financial figure could be way too conservative as a record $2.4 billion was spent on the Presidential campaign in 2008. So if a group of grown men, who want to be the next President of the United States, can spend well over a billion dollars to make rude and derogatory ‘accusations’ about each other – is it any wonder a thirteen year old will think it’s ok to do the same thing? 

Fake allegations about the presidential candidates are posted more than three times per minute on social media, according to MSNBC. Political action committees and corporations, freed by the Supreme Court to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, are preparing some of the most negative ads the US has ever seen. The candidates' own committees are said to be soliciting $1 billion each. 

What is scary about this election is that 46% of Americans would never consider voting for Romney and 46% would never consider voting for Obama this November (where clearly some wouldn’t vote for either). And most of them feel viscerally that the other guy is a horrible, terrible, no-good person who will ruin the country. 

What's even scarier is that the experts think the election will be decided by less than 1% of voters. (Even though the experts are often wrong, it’s likely that nearly half the population will be seriously bitter come January.) 

I suppose centuries ago you were either born into the role of leader of a country – or you fought to become the leader of a country – where fighting involved nasty weapons, rather than nasty words. 

But can we really justify in the 21st century and in, supposedly, democratic countries that it’s money that buys you the position of power and leadership rather than anything else. How does money link to leadership qualities – I’ve searched everywhere to find any correlation between being rich (or having rich friends) and being a good leader and I simply can’t find it. In fact, if anything, you’ll find evidence that ‘wealth’ can, in certain circumstances, negatively impact ‘excellence in leadership’, as the ‘wealth’ assume positions of leadership rather than earning it through experience, results and building a reputation.  

But even aside from the above how do you justify spending this kind of money, when there are citizens in the US, who through no fault of their own, are currently struggling to survive. It was back in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina struck and over seventy countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. So I just have to wonder how these countries, some of them poor and suffering themselves at the time, like Sri Lanka, (which was still recovering from the Indian Ocean Tsunami yet still offered to help), feel about seeing the US ‘happy’ to spend this much money on a Presidential race?

Maybe I’m naive but this can’t be healthy for politics or for the economy in general – unless of course you’re in the advertising industry. What message does this send out to the population – when political games are more important that people’s lives? 

The other overriding problem that you have – which you actually have to give governments around the world credit for – is that in the majority of cases they have been able to ‘silence’ their own citizens. It doesn’t bother them that the majority of people throw up their hands in despair stating, ‘but what can we do, you can’t beat the system’ - that’s exactly what they want people to think, it’s perfect for them.  

The question I think we and many Americans need to ask come November is why would the US want to vote for a candidate who has spent nearly a billion dollars telling you how bad his opponent is – when that money could have been put to much better use elsewhere, helping struggling American families, for example. Why would you want either of them to be the custodian of your countries economy – when they are clearly so bad with money?

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