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A billion here, a billion there — to achieve more gridlock?

Morning-after thoughts following the most expensive election money could buy:

Hereafter, why don’t we forgo any public financial participation in political campaigns and just let the wealthy elite finance them — either out of their own pockets or in combination with the unlimited contributions now allowed from corporations and special interests?

Politics on the national level has become the sport of the rich and super-rich, government of the billionaires/millionaires, by the billionaires/millionaires, for the billionaires/millionaires.

Why should you or I send a presidential/senatorial/congressional/gubernatorial candidate 50 bucks, or even 500 bucks, when it ain’t spit in the ocean compared to the hundreds of thousands, and even millions, they can suck from their own bank accounts or from contributors with super deep pockets?

Example: World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon is reported to have spent $42 million of her own money on her (second) losing race for a Connecticut Senate seat. That pales, of course, beside the $160 million of her own money Meg Whitman is reported to have spent on her 2010 losing race for the California governorship, or the $850,000 per day, for a total of $82 million, that zillionaire Michael Bloomberg spent on his winning New York mayor’s race.

Estimates of spending on this year’s presidential election range from $1.6 billion on the low end to $2 billion-plus on the high end. Spending on all campaigns on November 6 ballots, including the obscene amounts flowing into “super PACs,” according to one estimate I saw, totaled a whopping $6 billion.

Oh, to have been a TV station owner in one of the major markets in one of the key battleground states. No economic doldrums for those guys. Break out the Cristal bubbly, order up a Mercedes …

However bad we in the boonies thought the incessant political ads were, we can thank our lucky stars we weren’t in Iowa or Ohio or Florida or other key states, where the ads were non-stop.

In the Washington, D.C./Virginia major market, one analyst noted that TV stations had aired more than 7,000 political ads in the course of the campaign! Another tally of campaign ads nationwide showed 80 percent of them were negative.

All this to achieve: gridlock. Same president, same divided Congress, same dismal outlook for bipartisan solutions to solving the gargantuan problems confronting the nation.

Can the president and his party manage in the next four years to achieve what they haven't in the first four: Work constructively with the opposition to solve the ever-mounting fiscal crisis, develop workable solutions for Social Security/Medicare and the much-reviled Obamacare, rework a hopelessly unwieldy tax code, and actually, finally, get us out of the rathole of lost lives and treasure that is Afghanistan?

Oh, and let’s not forget: pass a farm bill (which seems to have been forgotten in all the election blather).

Mr. Romney succinctly, and eloquently, summarized the need in his concession speech:

“This nation … is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.

“And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. We look to our teachers and professors — we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family.

“We look to our parents — for in the final analysis, everything depends on the success of our homes. We look to job creators of all kinds; we’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward.

“And we look to Democrats and Republicans, in government at all levels, to put the people before the politics.”

If only …



TAGS: Legislative
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