Posted on | April 9, 2012 | 9 Comments
Possibly too soon for the analogy, but this bit from Adam Clancy at The American Interest is really that off-putting (emphasis mine):
But as Gingrich found out all it now takes is the support of one billionaire to keep your campaign alive indefinitely. For Gingrich, that billionaire is the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. Adelson donated $5 million to the floundering Gingrich campaign after Iowa. When that failed to resuscitate the campaign Miriam kicked in another $5 million in the lead-up to South Carolina. And as if to prove that casino owners can be just as profligate as their customers, Adelson donated another $5 million in mid-February after it became apparent that Gingrich’s win in South Carolina was not the game changer they had hoped it would be. All told, the Gingrich super PAC “Winning Our Future” raised $18.8 million through the end of February, of which the Adelsons contributed $16.5 million. It is fair to say that without the Adelsons’ largesse, enabled by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, Gingrich would have gone quietly into the good night.
As well as prolonging the primary, Citizens United also made it a nastier process. Mitt Romney ran a traditional, pre-Citizens United campaign. He performed well in Iowa despite the state not being a naturally fertile ground for his brand of Republicanism. In friendlier territory in New Hampshire, Romney won a convincing victory. He emerged from the Granite State as the overwhelming favorite and proceeded to South Carolina with at least one eye on the general election. What Romney’s campaign had not counted on was Sheldon Adelson’s checkbook.
What is with all this emoting about nastiness? This whinging about on the topic of money in politics is a Progressive’s erotic legislation dream:
- Stir up the angst about the money.
- Write another atrocious piece of legislation.
Let it be. There is no way under the sun that you’re going to achieve human redemption through the rule of law, much less stink-free electoral campaigns. The solution to bad speech is more speech, but it does not follow that the answer to odious legislation/court decisions is more legislation/litigation:
But fortunately, voters are not mindless automatons. They evaluate the messages being presented to them and compare them with elected officials’ records in office. An incumbent with a good record will find his ads reach a receptive audience. Conversely, an interest group whose agenda is broadly unpopular with voters is going to have a harder time using ads to reduce the candidate’s poll numbers.
Relatedly, as Meg Whitman recently learned, advertising dollars are subject to diminishing returns. If the average voter sees candidate A’s ad 10 times and candidate B’ ad only once, that’s likely to give candidate A a sizable advantage. But if the average voter sees candidate A’s ad 1000 times and candidate B’s ad only 100 times, the gap is unlikely to matter. Indeed, some voters might get so tired of seeing candidate A’s ads that they vote for candidate B out of spite.
So, while I’m no more enthusiastic about batteries of negative advertising artillery than the next bloke, I submit that the electorate itself is doing as good a job or better as Congress in dealing with the situation.