There is a rumor going around Washington DC, that there was some kind of election last week. Things are back to normal now with college students practicing their football plays in front of the Capitol. Just in case you missed the election the results can be summarized as follows. $6 billion dollars spent, nothing changed. But that is just the point; sometimes the status quo is the best option. It is having the possibility to choose that counts.
The President? Still Barack. The House of Representatives? Still Republican. The Senate? Still Democrat. And all that after two years of campaigning and an awful lot of money spent. So what else could you do with six billion dollars? Well, you could build two decent hospitals for one thing. That fact alone should be enough to make you question the money that was spent during the 2012 Election Campaign.
Got $44 million in spare change?
The figures can be even more shocking when you break it down into smaller, more understandable. Have you ever bought a lottery ticket and dreamed of what you would do if you got lucky and won $40 million dollars or so? I bet you thought of holidays, a new home and the best education possible for your kids. Did you think about running an unsuccessful election campaign for the US Senate? Thought not. In the state of Connecticut, Republican candidate, Linda MacMahon spent $44 million of her own money in her election campaign. She lost! I am told it is called ‘Hooby Politics’. How can people actually have that type of money just to play around with as though it was like buying a new set of golf clubs? Local TV and newspaper owners who benefited massively from her campaign were of course, crying themselves all the way to the bank.
A horribly negative campaign
Of course, the whole process wasn’t helped by an extremely negative campaign. Outside of the US, Barack Obama still has something of a rock star status. However, even non US citizens can see that he hasn’t lived up to the promise of 2008. This would have been hard to do anyway given the hype around his first election, but there is no getting away from the fact that the 2012 campaign was extremely negative. Some reports show that a mere 14% of Obama ads gave a positive message.
The essential message was therefore let’s spend the equivalent of two new hospitals to reelect someone who says he hasn’t done everything that should have but he is not as bad as the other guy. Quite a seductive message!
Is there any hope in this procedure which, let us not forget, will start up again in less than two years? Well, yes. For one thing the USA is far from being alone in this type of charade. France had elections earlier in this year and the talk was equally doom and gloom. Then we should not forget that some six billion dollars is small change. Indeed, it seems almost insignificant compared to the 16 billion dollars of bonus payments that Goldman Sachs paid to its employees in 2009. No one got the chance to vote on that and I suspect that if they had done so the result wouldn’t have been nearly as close as the Obama/Romney affair.
And finally, we should not forget that at least this money was spent in an open manner. The fact that there is a democratic process means that those hospitals are more likely to get build. There will be the complaints of the mismanagement of resources from time to time. However, this cannot compare to some countries where through lack of a democratic process, funds are just challenged into the private bank account of the leader. Joseph Mobutu stole roughly the same amount from the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They didn’t see many hospitals being build either. The former leaders of Tunisia and Leila Trabelsi stole similar amounts from their own people.
Is Obama perfect? Probably not. Is six billion dollars too much money to keep him in the same job? Also certainly. But at least Americans had the option to choose. Sometimes we are given the choice to have something new and upon reflection we decide that what we already have is far better. That knowledge alone is worth a few bucks.
The Happy Hermit:
“Q: What do you get for spending 6 billion $ on an election campaign in the US?
A: You maintain the status quo. The President is re-elected, the House of Representatives remains Republican and Democrats maintain their majority in the Senate”.
Open Secrets: “President Barack Obama clinched a second term relying on many of the same campaign finance tools he used in his pre-Citizens United victory in 2008″.
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