In their landmark 2010 “Citizens United vs. FEC” case, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded “money is a form of speech” and the First Amendment precludes restrictions on corporate donations and finance of political campaigns. With this decision, American democracy, already awash in rivers of campaign cash, sank even further under oceans of corporate lucre. Democracy went up for sale, as nearly any entity, human or otherwise, could now influence votes through enormously financed campaigns.
Still, sometimes mass-cash works and sometimes it doesn’t — but every time the onslaught of political marketing offends our senses. Local Katie Hill beat Steve Knight largely powered by 10 million bucks of outside-our-district funds. But Michael Bloomberg famously blew hundreds of millions of his own cash and to no avail. Politicians may win or lose — but voters always lose, courtesy of these high-financed saturation-bomb campaigns.
And it’s not limited to human candidates. Notoriously, corporations get self-serving initiatives on ballots and then pay millions selling you and me on their politically engineered profit product. Witness this year the business battles as diverse as dialysis and Uber drivers.
Money, money, money… we are SICK OF IT.
How many hundreds (yes, hundreds) of campaign fliers have you received this campaign season? How many forests were mowed down for postcards selling you and me on this and that? How many times must we read and hear how terrible Christy Smith or Mike Garcia is, or that Biden is a feeble old man?
Couldn’t we have just watched the World Series in peace?
I don’t watch much TV but when I do it’s the nail-biting Dodger championship run. Too bad all the ads interrupted the exuberance!
These TV political ads are stupefying. Numbing. Dumbing. It’s too much, out of control, and at this volume of political ad AR-15-level assault on our senses, it also has to be counterproductive.
Or is it? The smart guys with the money keep the trigger fully pulled and the volume pinned at 11. Perhaps indeed, our minds can be bought.
Still, I remain confident that most of us are DONE with all the dross in our mailboxes and hate ads on TV. Everyone save the entire Political Industrial Complex that profits from this mental mayhem.
And, have you noticed there’s an “advertising arms race,” with fliers getting larger and larger each election? First postcards, then half-page: We’ve worked up to poster-sized mailers just one click smaller than yard signs, jockeying for your attention on the kitchen counter.
A funny thing happened on the way to this year’s campaign. At some point I must have clicked some unintended button and ended up on a Trump fundraising list. In the interest of light-hearted campaign finance humor, I share a humorous non-stop string of real-life text messages, actually sent to my phone, daily: (Spelling and punctuation intentional.)
Mon, Oct. 19, 2:51 PM: Are you there, Gary? Pres Trump invited you to be a VIP at his upcoming rally but never heard back. You have 1 hour to enter. Act now.
Tues, Oct 20, 11:45 AM: Congrats! You won the FEC Deadline 800% Match extension! Pres Trump will look for your name in 1 hour, Gary. Donate & claim now:
Tues, Oct 20, 3:51 PM: Eric & Don Jr. have been asking about you! Why haven’t you stepped up to help Pres Trump & your Party? Don’t let them down! 8X Match! Act now:
Wed, Oct 21, 3:47 PM: This is Mike Pence. I’ve texted you multiple times this week because it’s critical we hit our goal! Claim the final 8X MATCH in the next hour>>>
Wed, Oct 21, 7:17 PM: They are asking about you!
Eric: “We need Gary!”
Don Jr. “Have we heard from Gary?”
Don’t let them own! 900% Match now:
Thurs, Oct 22, 8:28 AM: Wow! You won the Debate Day 800% Match, Gary! Only our most patriotic supporters qualify. Valid for 1 hour. Claim now:
Thurs, Oct 22, 10:45 AM: Pres Trump: Gary, you didn’t claim your last Presidential Debate 800% Match? No other Patriots can accept until you do, Gary. Hurry! Act:
Thurs, Oct 22, 3:37 PM: 3 hours from the Debate! Pres Trump and the GOP noticed your name is missing. Last chance to get on the Debate [email protected] 8X Match! Act!
Friday, Oct 23, 2:52 PM: 73 DONARS SHORT! Pres Trump’s counting on you to hit our best daily record. Step up! Get on the printed list we hand him. Claim 8X Match!
Sat, Oct 24, 2:22 PM: Eric Trump: We want you to attend an upcoming rally as Pres Trump’s VIP guest. You’ll even take a photo together. 1 hour left to win>>>
Sun, Oct 25, 12:20 PM: Pres Trump: Should Gary be on the top 1% Donor List?
Eric: Just 1 donation away!
Don Jr.: Almost there!
Claim your 800% Match to join!
Mon, Nov 2, 6:00 PM: 1 DAY OUT FROM ELECTION DAY:
Pres Trump: You’re one of my top supporters. Will you step up again to help us win big? 1000% Match! Act!
And finally –
Mon, Nov 2, 7:52 PM: Pres Trump: VP Pence, Eric, & Don Jr. all tested you. 1hr 1000% – Match live. We’re short of our goal to beat Biden. Can I count on you? Act!
Boy, did the Trump family read me wrong!
It’s plain that, despite this texting barrage, I’m not making Trump’s top 1% donor list. I won’t be Trump’s VIP. But plainly, many opt in for this stuff.
Still, here’s something we all can agree on: All this crazy money in politics has got to end! Text 555224 to get your 1,000% match for our new Stop Crazy-Money Politics ballot initiative!
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.