There isn’t a household in Pennsylvania that has active voters that hasn’t been subjected to at least two dozen TV political ads each day, several robo-calls a week, and a dozen or more direct mail full-color 8-1/2-by-11 inch postcard campaign ads. Many households have already received three or four dozen such ads in the past month.
Pennsylvanians aren’t the only ones who have been subjected to a deluge of political campaign ads the past six months. In California, Oregon, Nevada, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, in every state in which there is a possibility of Republicans taking Senate, House, and governor seats from Democrats, there is a battle. The tactic is fear. The facts don’t matter. It makes little difference. It’s the results the politicians, their parties, and innumerable special interest groups care most about.
This year, more than $4 billion will be spent on Congressional and Gubernatorial races on the midterm election. From individuals. From corporations. From special interest groups. Leading the donations from special interest groups are the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which pledged to spend more than $75 million; American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, formed by Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s political advisor, which is expected to spend about $65 million; and the Republican Governors Association, which has already donated more than $30 million, leaving the Democratic Governors Association, which has contributed about $10 million, in its dust. Other Democrat-leaning organizations are Act Blue, which will spend about $15 and Moveon, which will probably spend about $25 million, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
Thanks to a 5–4 ruling by the Supreme Court in January, corporations now enjoy the First Amendment rights of individuals. And corporate money, mostly to conservative causes, has poured into the campaigns. None of the special interest groups—no matter which political ideology they embrace—are taxed.
In the third quarter alone, 23 individuals have contributed more than $100,000 each—15 to conservative causes, seven to liberal causes, one to a non-profit, according to the CRP. Five of the six who gave more than $1 million in the past three months have donated to Republican/conservative campaigns.
The leader in campaign giving, according to Federal Election Commission data, is Bob J. Perry, owner of Texas-based Perry Homes. During the past decade, Perry donated about $35 million to conservative candidates and special interest groups, and was a founder of Swift Boat Veterans, which targeted John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
Perry isn’t the only financial whale. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has put up about $140 million of her own fortune in a bitter contest against Jerry Brown for the governorship of California. The job pays $212,000 a year. In Connecticut, Linda McMahon will spend almost $50 million of her own fortune to try to defeat Richard Blumenthal, who has spent about $6 million, for that state’s governorship, according to CRP data.
While persons, corporations, and special interest groups are donating billions to the midterm elections, America companies and corporations in every village, town, borough, and city will have outsourced about 1.6 million jobs in 2010, according to data compiled by Forrester Research; the same companies and corporations have outsourced about 5.5 million jobs in the past decade to foreign countries in order to increase the “bottom line.” About 14.8 million Americans are unemployed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
On the streets of America, banks and various lending institutions will have foreclosed on about 1.2 million families in 2010, according to Daily Finance.
Here is another statistic. While persons, corporations, and special interest groups are donating billions to the midterm elections, in every village, town, borough, and city in America about 750,000 persons will be homeless tonight.By the time the winners in the Nov. 2 election take office in January, more than 3.5 million Americans, about one-fourth of them veterans, will have been homeless in the year in which more than $4 billion was spent to elect political candidates. The politicians will be warm during their inaugurals; the homeless won’t be.
Walter Brasch is a professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. His most recent book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Rosemary Brasch is a former secretary, Red Cross national disaster family services specialist, union grievance officer, and university labor studies instructor.