It’s about the message
“My doctors told me this morning my blood pressure is down so low that I can start reading the newspapers.”
—President Ronald Reagan (1987)
I am constantly dumbfounded over the media establishment’s absurd proclivities in portraying capitalism—and by extension, “big” business—as a somehow evil thing, and yet the poor or the downtrodden or whatever imagined minority deemed worthy is canonized at the altar of liberalism.
The latest comes courtesy of a recent Reno Gazette-Journal opinion piece that started with this: “Voters have every right to be disturbed at the amount of money that typically is spent on political campaigns.”
OK. First and foremost, let’s consider that this in and of itself offends my eighth-grade sense of civics. (Journalists never seem to get beyond “freedom of the press” when it comes to the U.S. Constitution.) I’d rather politicians and want-to-be politicians raise money privately than spend more taxpayer dollars to get elected. If that “disturbs” the electorate, then so much the better. Let voters get off their lazy backsides and vote. Yet, the fundamental premise behind every liberal policy begins with this: “Gore someone else’s proverbial ox first, last and always.”
At the end of the day, however, businesses have just as much right to support candidates as the rest of us.
The editorial continues, “The problem is that to make intelligent decisions, voters must be informed about who is running for office, and the candidates and their staffs have expenses. It all takes money. Enough to make political campaigning a growth industry.” To which I ask, what exactly is the problem? You can’t have it both ways.
“All the figures haven’t yet been filed, but the reports released by the secretary of state’s office show that Nevada’s new state-level officeholders spent more than $10 million to capture their seats, and candidates who lost their bids for a constitutional office spent more than $4 million. That’s not a lot of money when compared to a $7 billion state spending plan and a $300 million tax rebate.”
That, of course, leads readers to believe that the more money spent directly correlates to an increased chance of winning.
Consider, however, that Ross Perot, worth roughly $4.3 billion and currently the 57th wealthiest person in the world, ran for president in 1992 and 1996. We all know his political fate. And Steve Forbes, at $3.3 billion and no financial slouch himself, ran for president in both 1996 and 2000—and he fared even worse than Perot. This perhaps suggests that money alone isn’t the sole reason for winning an election.
Consider also that in the 2004 election, Sen. Harry “Pinky” Reid raised $8,907,846 and spent $7,595,323 to get himself 61 percent of the electorate. His opponent, Republican Richard Ziser, raised a paltry $646,878 and spent $645,586 to get 35 percent of the vote. By my estimates, Reid spent $124,513 per vote, and Ziser spent $18,445. Said another way, Reid outspent Ziser almost 7 to 1. That suggests that it’s the correct combination of message and money—and not money alone—that is the formula to winning elections. (www.opensecrets.org/races/summary.asp?ID=NVS2&Cycle=2004)
Although, in truth, let’s also remember that the RG-J is owned by the Gannett Company—which owns USA Today and other newspapers. According to its own Web site (www.gannett.com), Gannett posted third quarter 2006 earnings at $1.9 billion. Any guesses whether the company’s financial statements reflect some campaign contributions of its own?
Or would that be hypocritical?
Which perhaps brings us back to Reagan’s message.