US Election Concern: What Is There To Vote For?
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: As Americans prepare to go to the polls, the airwaves are littered with paid advertising of the crassest and most manipulative kind. Political issues packaged by ad agencies are flooding the arena of politics with nasty negative ads.
So far, the two parties and their backers have spent a half billion dollars on political advertising with much of the placements still to come in the next few weeks. CBS reports the "spend" will top a billion dollars ---just on ads.
AP warns: "Get ready, presidential swing states. Now the campaign ad crush -- and TV spending spree -- really begins."
This is occurring even as the economy and unemployment remain major issues. Millions of Americans are broke and hurting as poverty grows, but there seems to be no shortage of money to grease politics.
It's being called a "deluge," leading many Americans, according to USA Today, to wish the election was already over.
The political pros call it "the air war"--ironically, a military metaphor---as the media sells message points the way they sell soft drinks while political personalities and their speechwriters provide buzz words and superficial slogans to define their differences.
It's not clear if the American people and their media know or care how this wasteful, degrading and hypocritical exercise looks to people around the world: to Europeans battling austerity, Iranians surviving a vicious sanctions regime, Palestinians denied a country, Africans in many countries sinking deeper into deprivation and others coping with war and despair.
No wonder American "democracy" is losing respect in the eyes of many, including citizens inside these Disunited States, many of whom who are trying, but so far failing, to get big money out of politics.
Industry professionals see it not as a case study in political freedom, but as a cynical exercise, a caricature and demolition of real democracy. Producer Tyler Perry told an interviewer, "Just being in the business that I'm in, which is show business, I realize that a lot of things are smoke and mirrors. A lot of it is dust and let's hide the facts."
Because the discourse is so uninspired, the political parties are pushing voters to vote against their adversaries, not for anything better. Candidates used to say, "vote for me;' Now they say, "vote against him!'
Media outlets cover the ads---allegedly "fact checking" them, while rarely providing any deeper context or background. As of the end of October, Mitt Romney is the big spender on TV ads while the Obama campaign is not far behind, but more focused on an outreach effort, what's called "the ground game."
Our politics has been turned into a covert operation. Many of the donations to these ad budgets are secret, reports National Public Radio:
"Since April, most of the TV ads supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have come from outside groups, not from Romney's own campaign. And those groups raised more than half of their money from secret donors, according to a six-month study of ads."