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, OpenSecrets.org 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.”