Saturday, November 20, 2010


If you ask yourself who’s running the country today the short answer is those with the most money.  I am reminded of what I consider to be a great ad of yesteryear.  Babe Schwartz, the then Senator from Galveston, was running for re-election; his opponent was a handsome young man from a well-to-do family with a long history of business in Schwartz’ district.  Schwartz’ opponent had very deep pockets and was outspending Schwartz approximately 4:1.  Schwartz came up with what I considered to be one of the best political ads of all time.  

Schwartz appeared in a television commercial with his son.  They were standing in the chamber of the Texas Senate.  Schwartz’ young son, with his hand on Schwartz’ Senate chair, looked up at his dad and said, “Dad would you buy me a chair like this?”  Schwartz put on his most serious look, looked down at his son and said, “Son, a seat in the Texas Senate is not for sale.”  

I’m not so sure Schwartz’ ad would have the same ring of truth today as it did then.  If you do a survey on elections throughout the country, I am certain you would find that in the vast majority of cases the candidate having the most money won.  

Two years ago it was estimated there was about 160 billion dollars spent on elections nationwide.  When it’s finally totaled up for the 2010 election cycle, an estimated 400 billion dollars will have been spent collectively on various election contests throughout the country.

There are many troubling signs that do not portend well for thinking people to select the leaders of this country.  Television, the most expensive media outlet available to candidates, has become the source of information to the vast majority of voters.  Statistically, the newspapers that have had the ability to give thoughtful and incisive information about the candidates are definitely on the decline.  

Rick Perry recently proved the ineffectiveness of the newspapers in Texas.  Once powerful endorsements of newspapers was a factor to be reckoned with by any candidate, particularly a statewide candidate.  Perry has successfully thumbed his nose at the newspapers of Texas collectively by refusing even to be interviewed by their editorial boards.  This affront, I suspect, was a major part of motivation for the daily newspapers of Texas to endorse Bill White.  The election results demonstrate the effectiveness and power, or lack thereof, of our daily newspapers in the election process today.  

Other studies show that in America, because of recent conservative policies and tax structures, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the gap is getting ever wider.  While conservative candidates tout the fact that Americans have turned their back on the recent medical and healthcare reform, no one seems to notice that special interests were spending over a million dollars a day on lobbyists and PR firms to convince the American public that reformed healthcare was bad for them. 

The net result is that rich folks like Bob Perry, a homebuilder in Texas who has given 60-70 million dollars in recent elections, influence the outcome.  Add on to this fact that less than one-half of qualified Americans bothered to register to vote and then less than half of those who have taken the time to register bothered to visit the polls on Election Day. 
Less than 10% of Texans have selected our leadership.   It is appalling to me that the 90% who did not take the trouble to exercise the right that our forefathers bled for have not figured out that Bob Perry’s goal of not allowing you to complain in court of a shoddily built house does not comport with your best interests. 

They most certainly and obviously have not figured out that his 60 million dollars in political contributions means considerably more to some of our elected officials than your paltry little vote that you didn’t bother to go cast.  

Yes, it is my considered opinion that money is running this country right now and that it will only get worse in large measure because of the recent Bush Supreme Court ruling that corporations, even foreign corporations, can spend as much money as they want to influence elections in America.  And they don’t even have to reveal who is putting up the money.

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