The political season is often called the “silly” season. If it were not for the serious ramifications of elections, I would agree.
The swing states are being carpet bombed with ads right now. It will be our turn soon. Besides political ads created in state, we will see a big increase in ads from out-of-state organizations with innocuous names that we do not recognize and whose agenda is unclear.
The Citizens United decision opened wider the floodgates of $$ to the political process. Super Pacs and now tax-exempt, social-justice nonprofits are the biggest avenues for such monies. See Seattle Times article http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2018631575_taxexempt08.html. The Supreme Court just recently said it would not revisit the Citizens United decision.
It is argued that it does not matter how much money is spent or where it comes from. Money is free speech and corporations are people. (Really?…ever see a corporation drafted into the military or suffer the loss of a loved one in war?) The argument goes that only voters can vote and thus are the decision makers; voters are the firewall of our democracy.
Money is spent not only to influence public opinion but to frighten legislators. Mr Legislator, if you don’t vote our way, we will go after you in your district come election time. Here is a simple question that we might ask ourselves. If one does not have the money, how successful will he or she be at getting their message out to the voting populace? Money, secrecy and democracy are not a good mix.
Most voters are not well-informed on public policy issues. Effective campaigns attempt to connect with voters on an emotional level with actors that look and sound just like us. The campaigns offer appealing bumper sticker rhetoric that “sounds right.” It simplifies the process for us. While we voters say pretty much universally that we do not like negative ads, political organizations know that it works and will continue to use it.
When dealing with political issues, I ask myself the following questions:
1.) What is being presented?
2.) Who is the presenter?
3.) Why should I believe them?
4.) Who can I talk with that has greater knowledge on the subject than I do?
The major candidates for governor talk about how they want to dramatically increase investment in education. Neither offers any ideas as to how they would pay for it. They seem afraid to speak of revenue increases. Perhaps it really is “silly” season.
Chuck Parrish is a regular columnist for the Tukwila Reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org