The AJC reported in a Nov. 3 article that Michelle Nunn spent over $13.1 million on her campaign while David Perdue spent $11.4 million. Outside interests spent $28.4 million on the senate race. In the governor’s race Nathan Deal spent $14.2 million and Jason Carter spent $7.8 million.
That amounts to $75 million dollars spent on two races in Georgia and those figures do not include what was spent the last two weeks of the campaign for Nunn and Perdue.
According to the AJC, the Center for Public Integrity states that we have seen over 65,000 television ads for the senatorial race. That doesn’t count print ads or the ever increasing robo-calls from minor celebrities urging us to vote for a certain candidate. And I ask you, while I know that Pat Boone was a minor heart throb in the 1950s and ’60s, what makes him qualified to tell me how to vote in Georgia? To the best of my knowledge he lives in California.
And don’t those who run the campaigns of candidates realize that most of us have telephones that tell us who is calling? When we don’t recognize the number, we don’t answer. And when we finally get around to deleting calls from the answering machine, we don’t listen to those minor celebrities or family members urging us to vote for certain candidates. That is money that campaign managers would do well not to spend.
The ads that we did see, for the most part, were more about what was wrong with the opposition, not ‘vote for me because I will do this and that’. It was “don’t vote for the other guy because he will do this or that.”
I hear people, including myself and members of the press, bemoaning the fact that there are no statesmen. No men who are willing to compromise for the good of the nation. How can there be when they have bashed members of the opposite party to such an extent that there can be no goodwill between the parties?
Did you notice that those who spent the most money won?
And why are people willing to spend so much money to win public office? Actually, those running usually spend very little of their own money. They depend on donations from interested parties. So the question is: Why are donors (usually special interest groups) willing to give so much money to political candidates? And the obvious answer is so that when their candidate is in office, he or she will vote for legislation that will in some way help the donor financially to recoup the money donated (and usually to make much, much more money).
This system makes us all kind of cynical. And it’s a vicious cycle. You can’t get elected without money for advertisements, and if you accept money, you are beholden to companies and organizations that support you.
I think our founding fathers are turning over in their graves. Our founding fathers went out of their way to make sure that the requirements for holding public office would hopefully guarantee educated candidates who wanted the best for their country. Then they specified that we would vote for members of an electoral college who would then choose a president.
In a time when very few people traveled more than 30 or 40 miles from their homes, the founding fathers wanted to make sure that people voted for individuals of integrity whom they knew personally, not the most powerful person who spent the most money and made empty promises. I am sure most of the men and women elected today think they can change the world, but once in office and pitted against the Democratic and Republican political machines, they quickly become disillusioned.
But what keeps bothering me the most are all the other ways that that money could have been better spent to help the people of Georgia: Laptops for public school students, improvements in the highway system so commutes are shorter, improvements to regional hospitals; and the list goes on.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.