Beyond Citizens United: Politics Is an Industry, Not Just A Campaign
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: In theory, American elections traditionally get going after Labor Day, but, as we can see by the daily overkill media "coverage," polls and constant reporting about who has raised what---to the degree that anyone really knows in the age of SuperPacs--- that the political horses for the 2012 are off and running.
Lots of the "analysis" seems absurd on its face even as everyone who g ollows politics knows it's much too early to spot key trends. The race will tighten with what happens in October crucial. Example: the recent survey that found--voila-- "cell phone users prefer Obama; landline users like Romney." All of this reflects the obsession the press and its senior wise men have on reporting domestic politics over all other issues. They are like sports fanatics in this respect.
The candidates have been in motion for years. It"s known as the "permanent campaign," an idea attributed to one of Jimmy Carters's advisors, Pat Cadell, who said in 1979 that just because you have been elected doesn't mean you stop campaigning,
He wrote in his 'Initial Working Paper on Political Strategy, "it is my thesis governing with public approval requires a continuing political campaign."
Journalist Sidney Blumental, before he joined the Clinton White House, wrote "the Permanent Campaign" in 1980, revealing that political parties were dead and had been replaced by political consultants and other campaign professionals. (Disclosure: I helped get the book published by Beacon Press.)
In other words, politics had changed fundamentally: the old style bosses were out and a new style media driven system was in. Politics had also become a business with a whole retinue of advertising specialists, market researchers and pollsters.
Today, political journalist Joe Hagen labels this new army of experts for hire a "presidential electoral complex"---almost on the same scale as the military industrial complex.
Their advice does not come cheap, with the tail today wagging the dog. Any serious candidate hires his team and then has to raise millions to pay for it. When politics spawned a profession, the big money that's transformed politics no longer went just to candidates but to the industry around them.
They also developed a stake in the fostering polarization and continuing crisis so that their counsel will be solicited more often. Increasingly political campaigns were run like military commands with centralized top-down direction, defensive and offensive strategies and tactics as well as psychological warfare.
The campaign gurus are well schooled in the techniques of perception management.
This industry is bi-partisan with hired guns always shopping for the best deal irrespective of party. One time dirty trickster Roger Stone who worked first for Richard Nixon ended up advising everyone from Al Shapton to Donald Trump, to Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Some of these advisors step over the legal line like GOP operative Alan Raymond but few get caught.
The New York Times reported In New Hampshire's hotly contested 2002 Senate race, Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks were jammed with incoming calls on Election Day. The Republican John Sununu, won re-election by under 20,000 votes, and Allen Raymond, a Republican Party operative, went to jail for his role in the jamming.
Mr. Raymond has now written a book about his experiences, "How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative." In it, he paints a picture of the corruption of modern politics that should leave no doubt about the creativity and cynicism of operatives like Mr. Raymond or the need for tough new election-reform legislation.