On Election Day

It’s finally here – Election Day in the United States of America. Many will go to the polls on Tuesday (including me), while many have already voted. Local board of elections will tally votes and declare winners – meanwhile, as winners cheer and mistakenly declare mandates, others will cry, feel remorse, and bitterly complain about something predictable.

Three things have stuck me about the 2012 campaign. First, either it takes far too long or the candidates and parties have purposefully made it an agonizing process.

Secondly, it is interesting how divided the American voters are these days. There is little doubt that Mitt Romney has not only repositioned himself throughout the election process – even contradicting himself on numerous occasions. Yet, many voters will ignore those missteps, not because they believe in Mitt Romney, but because they have a disdain for President Obama and Democrats.

Thirdly, parties and the people representing them on the ballot are willing to pay an enormous price to get what they want – power! Typically in life, there is the price to pay dishonesty, misrepresentations, distortions – but not for politicians because it’s their way of life -and sadly, one that the people blindly accept.

Columnists George Will compared this year’s campaign spending to the amount of money consumer giant Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) advertising expense. Once again, another bad example by Mr. Will as he tries to justify the benefits of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. I want to point out one big difference between product advertising and political ads: P&G is bound to the Federal Trade Commission guidelines stating that advertising claims must be true, non-deceptive, fair, and that advertisers must have evidence to support their claims.

Meanwhile, consider the following numbers:

  • President Obama’s campaign spent over $1 billion
  • Mitt Romney’s campaign spent over $1 billion
  • The Democratic party spent over $ 1 billion
  • The Republican party spent over $1 billion
  • Super PACs spent over $1 billion
  • House of Representatives races spending exceeded $1.3 billion
  • Senate races spending $750 million in 34 races

How many hungry would that money feed?

How many clothes would that money help clothe?

How many uninsured would become insured?

How many jobs would it create through investments in companies for expansion?

How many people could it educate?

How many research grants could it fund?

How many first responders could it rehire?

How many shelters could it help?

How much infrastructure could it improve?

… And, this list can easily go on and on, which speaks volumes.

54 thoughts on “On Election Day

  1. How many people in the path of Hurricane Sandy could those billions have re-homed, given electric service back to, and so forth? And what would the budget deficit look like if each candidate had to reduce his/her salary by the amount spent on their campaign?
    Though I think I have a new favourite holiday. On Christmas, you just get a bunch of trinketry. On Wednesday, barring anything horrific, we will get SILENCE. At least for a few months.
    Cost of campaigning? Billions. Cost of TV ads? Billions. The silence on Wednesday (or Thursday, or Friday)? PRICELESS! :D

      • Guapo,
        Talk about 2016 starts soon … and odds are good that we will hear about it tonight. Meanwhile, the results will dictate the next move by the potential 2016 candidates. Keep in mind, I would be willing to say that some preliminary groundwork has already started. However, at least the early stuff is behind the scenes! Thanks for commenting.

        • John,
          Never intend to crush anyone’s hopes. Then again, if you won a big, big lottery, I imagine political parties are even on your possible list! Thanks for commenting.

    • John,
      Given the damaged from the recent storm, a great one for a list. (I intended to be on the list, but it got away from me.) Meanwhile, wonderful example of the silence that is about to start. Even though the results may not be decided, the silence will be priceless. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. How naive, Frank.
    Don;t you know it’s important to spend all that money to make sure the right people are helping those in need?

    I like our system of gov, in theory. I’m just not always fond of it in reality…

    • Guapo,
      Not only do I appreciate our system of government, I respect it … but that doesn’t mean I have to like it all the time. Campaign spending is a huge negative with me … as is the strength of the party and it’s influence on the elected. The cynic in me wonders what the big donors get in return.

  3. I would love to think that John, above, is right and that we will have silence on Wednesday….but if this election is very, very close….I am afraid that the discord is going to go on and on for quite a LONG time…..and yes….the list could go on an on……………….how much good all of that money could do….

  4. I have just about had it, too, Frank. The amount of money thrown about during this election cycle is obscene. I just don’t feel settled about anything. I voted days ago, and I am confident in my personal decision, but the anger and vitriol I keep hearing, mixed with cynicism and at times what sounds to me like hatred, really disturbs me. We will see what we will see…and then I may need to take an “information break” for a while!

    • Debra,
      We all need an information break … especially the break from the misleading, distort, incorrect, out-of-context crap that we have been getting. Candidates throw stuff out there hoping it sticks, but it is up to us to shift through it. Unfortunately, too many take the words as gospel without fact checking! In the big picture, at least you voted and win or lose, you have confidence in your decision. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Given the alternatives, I think the money is well spent. Of course, it would be possible to limit campaign expenses by law, but I don’t know if that is a realistic possibility. What is important, is that the people have their say. And it is important to remember that the president is not king… and with the many checks and balances, the government as a whole should really reflect the will of the American people.

    • Shimon,
      Ah ha … considering the alternatives in forms of government is an outstanding point. Hopefully, that is something all Americans remember regardless of outcome. Although we have a lot of political gridlock, one can argue that is simply how our system can limit the elected from going too far. Nonetheless, I can’t help but wonder about the length of our process and the money spent. Thanks for sharing your insight!

      • This nasty election with all of the bending of truth and facts is the poster child for forcing a short concise campaign period – and severely cutting how much money can be spent. Really – with all the media and technology there is no reason to torture the public for so long.
        Your list should be sent to every one on Capitol Hill

        • Mouse,
          Thus a list for each of them to ignore. After all, heaven forbid they legislate something against themselves. Glad you appreciated this post and thanks for visiting.

        • No kidding. In some ways I am Washingtonian, as he was weary of political parties acting in their best interests over that of the people. Another side of me is Jeffersonian, who had a ahead-of-his-times vision of what could be. Meanwhile, I think you will like my next post that will go up this evening.

  6. I’m really curious to see how this turns out Frank. Usually I have a pretty good feel about who will win, but not this time. Enjoy the fun—and let’s hope it actually ends tonight and doesn’t linger on and on in the courts.

    • TBM,
      Regardless of the fact that many of us want this over, many of us have an unsure feeling about the outcome. Beware of the Ohio vote, if the decision lingers into Wednesday. Provisional ballots, which will be a lot, don’t start being counted for about 10 days … thus a judge is scheduled to be involved tomorrow morning. Fun fun fun from my state! Thanks for commenting.

  7. I totally agree with you. The campaigns are far too long and there should be a ceiling on how much these campaigns cost. What has been spent is a horrific waste of money while all Americans are calling out for their Government to reign in spending. It just makes a mockery of what the citizens want xx

    • Spiced,
      “Mockery” is a good word – thus my point about truth in advertising. Good news is that at least this we’re talking about donated money, not public money involved in this campaign. Nonetheless, regardless of the outcome, I foresee more gridlock over the next two years. YUK! Thanks for sharing your thoughts from afar! :)

  8. Excellent.
    A subject close to my heart as you know I did a bit of complaining about it in a rant a few weeks ago. ( http://wp.me/p2f8G7-yK )
    The amounts spent by both candidates and both parties and their supporters are even greater now and a staggering waste of money. The examples you give put it in perspective.
    And ‘hotlyspiced’ is absolutely correct, it does make a mockery of what the people want, which makes a mockery of democracy itself.

    • Fasab,
      I remember you post – and I encourage others to read it! This post was already in the works at the time of your post, so you created an OMG moment in my mind. To me, much of the mockery lies in how both campaigns use, primarily misuse, information. Pathetic … simply pathetic. Thanks for commenting and sharing your link!

  9. Truly, it’s [insert profanity] immoral how much money has been spent on what amounts to shit! We should be ashamed as a nation. I lived in Haiti for a year. I can’t begin to wrap my brain around what anything remotely close to this amount would do for that country.

    • Kathy,
      Helping the needy people in other parts of the world is a great one for the list … and I appreciate your words that campaign spending is profoundly immoral. Nonetheless, a tip of the cap for your efforts! Thanks for sharing.

  10. That’s why Citizens United must be overturned and done away with. The money involved in elections is obscene. It leaves worthy candidates out of the process. Ugh. Yes, all those billions spent and our candidates groan and gripe about the deficit. GEEZ.

  11. Yes, we just saw $6 billion of capital vaporized. But think of all the web sites, tv stations, ad agencies, marketing, and polling firms that created so many jobs. The media wins by $6 billion campaigns. They always win. Build a person up, make money, tear the person down, make money. The media loves this game. Your state could be the decider, and your vote the key one in Ohio. Have fun.

    • Randel,
      Here’s a way that media stations lose – they sell political ads are a low rate, thus lose out on higher rates. Heck, I say they should pay the going rate, thus compete for time against other advertisers.

      Meanwhile, it’s still crazy, and there are many who profit from the process. Oh well … off to the polls later today for me. Thanks for commenting.

  12. It will be so nice not to keep getting phone calls from opinion pollers,wanting to know which way we’ll be voting. :) Oh Happy day! You’re so right about the waste of good money spent on all these electioneering campaigns. :( Have a great election day, Frank. See you on the other side. Holding thumbs.

  13. aFrank:
    I thought Harper Faulkner had taken the curmudgeon bludgeon – hey, I like that phrase – away from me but I see that you are giving him stiff competition. I can just throw the words “election campaigns” or “show common courtesy” at either one of you and it would be like throwing red meat to lions. Go get ’em!

  14. The money is obscene, immoral and disturbing. What these amounts say about all the candidates and the parties leaves me fearful for our nations future. If there is a Romney presidency we will have no hope of changing campaign financing laws, but even with an Obama second term I wonder.

    Loved the Video!

  15. Frank .. you said here what I have been thinking for months – all that money – totally wasted .. terrible. You’re so spot on – have seen it on TV over here the last few days and they are liturgically chasing people for their votes.
    In Sweden when we go to election – about 87% of us vote .. very high number, but we don’t have half the circus as you American has …
    Agree with your last replay too – doesn’t matter .. who wins, I don’t think anything will change – only that I think Obama has less skeleton in his closets. Mitt isn’t honest about his whereabouts.

    • Viveka,
      Personally, I find comments about US elections by “outsiders” to be very interesting. I recall an Aussie touting the 99%+ rate there because it is a requirement or be fined. Or the Russians how said the difference in our democracies is that we don’t know who is going to win. Nonetheless, I find the appearance of a circus (which is accurate) to be troubling … not about the observer (as some would say), but about us. After all, an honest look in the mirror can be a humble experience.

      MANY thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  16. Great post Frank.
    Does anyone listen after the first day or two of TV ads?
    Why do we get all those phone calls at our houses? I don’t know anyone who answers the phone anymore.

    Imagine if that money went to a fund which would allow every American to get a dental check-up? There are way too many people in this country who’ve never been to the dentist…

    • Rosie,
      Here are several possibilities on the TV ads: 1) tapping into the uninformed 2) motivating the base. As for the phone calls, three cheers for caller ID! Meanwhile, the money spent is over the top in my eyes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  17. Best election post of the season. Well said Frank, sad but true. Glad it’s nearly over, will there be any lessons learned? Probably not. Those numbers will likely increase in four years. Great post!

    • Society John,
      The fact that the odds of the 2016 numbers being higher is reality … and confirmation of the sadness of it all. Nonetheless, I’m glad you appreciated this post – probably not sure for the poker game – but the one coming in a few hours may be. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Hallelujah indeed! Have met my writing goal for the day and voted. I do wonder what will happen with the NY/NJ districts that may still be without power and dealing with the gas shortage. And you are so right about the outrageous amount of money being spent. The waste is sad.

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