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The Campaign Daisy Chain Election Complex

Dwight D Eisenhower finished his Presidential run in the early days of 1961. A military hero, he is consistently ranked among the top 10 Presidents of the United States by people with more research ability than me.

On the eve of his leaving Presidential office, he dropped a bomb on America. Though he spent a good swath of his adult life in the military, his military-industrial complex speech is among his greatest, his most poignant, because it likely cost him dearly to give it. You can read the complete transcript here.

I’m not writing a post today about the Military-Industrial Complex. We Americans have lost that war. Our generation’s rising specter is the Campaign-Daisy Chain Complex, thanks in part to the rulings surrounding Citizens United (AKA Corporations are people.)

As of this writing, reports that the amount of money spent on this election cycle is $5.8 billion for the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections, $2.5 billion for the Presidential election alone. Close to $800 million on paid television advertisements in key battleground states, almost all of them negative, according to the Washington Post. Spending per voter has jumped from $18 per in 2000 to $42 per in 2012.

Every decision we as Americans make about what is an important expenditure is a decision not to spend money elsewhere. Let me say that again: EVERY DECISION WE AS AMERICANS MAKE ABOUT AN IMPORTANT EXPENDITURE IS A DECISION NOT TO SPEND MONEY ELSEWHERE.

What could almost $6 billion have given us, if we inserted it into President Eisenhower’s speech?

  • The need to maintain balance in and among national programs – Which programs could have benefited from a $6 billion influx in revenue, not to mention the actual attention of our elected representatives?
  • Balance between the private and the public economy – How did the public economy benefit from this expenditure of $6 billion, other than by giving power to a certain few?
  • Balance between cost and hoped for advantage – What advantage did we as average American citizens gain by watching $6 billion be funneled into election campaigns, when few of us could give enough money to expect a return on our investment?
  • Balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable – What clearly necessary programs could have been funded with this $6 billion? Right now? Already?
  • Balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual – How much more will each individual citizen pay in taxes because of the expenditure of this $6 billion by shadowy entities that pay little-to-no tax?
  • Balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future – How did the expenditure of $6 billion on collective campaigns benefit the welfare of the future?

In the Campaign Daisy Complex, the expectation is that every dollar dropped on a candidate will be repaid as legislative largesse for a lobbyist or a leveraged interest, thus begetting more campaign cash, in a cycle as insidiously patriotic as the menace that Eisenhower identified.

However this election turns out, I leave you with some final words from President Eisenhower’s speech. They are worth noting, given what we as Americans have allowed to permeate our political process.

“Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.”

37 Comments Post a comment
  1. The next President will have as much to do with your life as does Bruce Springsteen. You can watch him on TV or pay to see him at a “charity” functjon. You’ll hear all about his life and decisions on TV and in the papers. Your life will carry on as usual, only affected by the actions of corporations, major investors and warlike insanity from who knows which mad fucker..The President and Bruce will be in the counting house, counting out their money.

    November 6, 2012
    • It’s really sad, Roger, that this is our process. But, you’re right.

      November 6, 2012
  2. Throw all the bums out and elect a new set of bums that won’t know enough fast enough to screw it all up.

    November 6, 2012
    • The only thing that’s going to fix this now is election reform, I’m afraid.

      November 6, 2012
  3. Sorry Lou, but 2010 disproved the “won’t know enough to screw it up theory.”

    November 6, 2012
  4. Can you imagine living in Ohio – One report I saw said that on the Evening News 22 commercials in a 30 minute show were political ads!

    November 6, 2012
    • I guess I should be glad to live in a place that’s considered sewn up……..

      November 6, 2012
  5. That was 22 IN A ROW – Nothing but politics and “If it bleeds it leads” for the fulll show!

    November 6, 2012
    • I’m not surprised. They have to spend all this $$$ on something.

      November 6, 2012
  6. Wow! It’s [insert profanity] immoral how much money has been spent on this election. I lived in Haiti for a year. I can’t even imagine what a fraction of that amount might do to help a place like that–not to mention the survivors of Sandy right here at home!

    November 6, 2012
    • It is immoral, Kathy. I wish more Americans could get as fired up about that as they do about Honey Boo Boo.

      November 6, 2012
  7. My new favorite, or un-favorite, phrase. “Campaign-Daisy Chain Complex” It is disgusting. From the ads on tv to the paper fliers in my mailbox, it is a waste of time, money, and resources. Intelligent voters don’t make up their minds from those things.

    The system is broken.

    The Accidental Cootchie Mama for President!

    November 6, 2012
    • I won’t say never to anything, Carnell, but shoot me if I ever want to run for any public office. I can’t imagine anything that would suck out the soul more than that.

      November 6, 2012
  8. And the saddest part of all is how little we get for that money from either side since payback is a bitch.

    November 6, 2012
    • Well, but if you GAVE a lot of it, Howard…………….

      November 6, 2012
  9. Bonita Jones Knott #

    Andra…Hats off Girl! I know how much you loathe political discussion these days. You presented this in a very digestible, informative way. I have not been reading political post but I read yours from start to finish. Good stuff lady! Now take a breath…you done good.

    November 6, 2012
    • And, I voted. So I done double-good for the day. :) xo, Dear.

      November 6, 2012
  10. Growing up, politicians were to be hated, regardless of political party. I fear that the race isn’t about helping people at all but about power power and more power.

    November 6, 2012
  11. 1961 was the beginning of my “adulthood” and we have, since then, seemed to live in a place where our government has NOT “avoid(ed) the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”

    No matter the outcome today, I truly suspect that Robert is correct, and it will be business as usual for the next four years. It’s sad to contemplate where we may be headed, and I hope I am mistaken.

    November 6, 2012
    • Karen, I hope we are mistaken, too, because we cannot be headed anywhere positive after all this nonsense.

      November 6, 2012
  12. Alice #

    Good post Andra,
    Given all the greedy little hands now in the pot, is it possible to put the lid back on? The costs are incredibly high if we don’t, so I continue to hope(and to vote), but not to hold my breath…

    November 6, 2012
    • I don’t know how one puts the lid back on the cookie jar without harsh consequences…………a true leader in a position to do it could probably fight that fight.

      November 6, 2012
  13. Does anyone here remember reading about the LAST civil war? (eh hemmm)
    Yes, Andra, this was another excellent and informative post. I have to admit that I do not understand some of what you wrote. What I did understand made sense to me. As a taxpayer and American citizen I believe that most of our problems originate on Capital Hill. (Capitol? I always get that wrong GAH!!) Until we rid ourselves of the greedy, good for nothing, blood sucking law makers, it wont matter who is in the oval office. Short of another civil war I have no clue how that will ever transpire, if at all.

    November 6, 2012
    • I hope we are not in for such a thing, James. That would be a disaster.

      November 6, 2012
  14. Disturbing figures. Serious food for thought.

    November 6, 2012
    • I would have settled for a thank-you pizza while I waited in line for two hours in the freezing cold.

      November 6, 2012
  15. The emphasis on money throughout this election process has been very frustrating for me. Actually, throughout the past few years I’ve been disturbed by the growing trend that people only seem valuable to a cause (or a candidate) if they can contribute in big ways (either with financial contributions or HUGE time contributions). I work toward what I believe in by talking, writing, challenging, questioning, and hopefully encouraging others to do the same. I dislike the fact that I’ve been made to feel bad because my pocket book wasn’t big enough, and even worse by being inundated with negative ads on a minute by minute basis. I just read an article by a European (German, I think) that said it doesn’t matter who wins, the USA has already lost because we are dominated by total capitalism, and I think I agree. It makes me sad. Worse, it makes me depressed and feel like hiding in a hole.

    November 6, 2012
    • That article is on target in so many ways, Lisa. It stuns me that no journalist here will write one like it, at least, that I’ve found.

      November 6, 2012
      • That’s because too many people are afraid (journalists included) of somehow admitting that American isn’t the most perfect place on earth. They don’t want to be labeled as un-American. Call me un-American, but I would rather fight (figuratively at least) for a country that I can truly be proud of, I don’t currently live in that country. (Sorry, I guess election day is putting me on my soapbox a little).

        November 6, 2012
      • No problem at all with your soapbox, Lisa.

        November 6, 2012
  16. We need fewer career politicians, beholden to big interest groups, and more REPRESENTATIVES!

    I hope to live long enough to see real campaign reform.

    November 6, 2012
    • Real campaign reform is what we need, Nancy, and I don’t think any of us will live long enough to see it now.

      November 7, 2012
  17. This is just a fabulously thoughtful post, Andra. I couldn’t agree more. I have been glued to my tv tonight and personally I’m happy with the outcome, but I am still very wary for the country as a whole. I think we have big troubles. And I agree with all about campaign reform. It can’t go on like this without real harm.

    November 7, 2012

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