Humorist Will Rogers had it right some 90 years ago. He noted that “politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.”
If he could only see it now.
Estimates put the cost of the recent presidential race at $2.6 billion. That means one side spent more than $1 billion only to lose. We’d hope there was a lesson there – but we doubt it.
If the public were to believe the unending direct mail pieces flooding mailboxes, countless robo-phone calls, and an unconscionable number of vile “hit pieces” on television, they would conclude that the best candidate for the job should have been “none of the above.” We suspect many people were sick of the whole thing weeks before Nov. 6.
The blame for a lot of this falls on the “super PACs,” collections of groups outside a politician’s direct campaign that are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money. The situation actually is worse since many groups don’t have to register with the Federal Election Commission because they say they are focusing on “educational,” not “political” activities. We’re calling – well, you know – on that.
This money-grubbing situation isn’t limited to the presidential race. The cost of political campaigns nationwide is estimated to be $6 billion. In our state alone, the race for governor is expected to reach a total cost of $46 million.
Despite this national effort, many voters say they don’t expect things to change much regardless of who is elected president.
We may not get the “best candidate that money can buy,” but we’re certainly going to get one who is ridiculously expensive.
Craig Groshart is the editor of the Bellevue and Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter newspapers, which are also owned by Sound Publishing, Inc.