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Money well spent

Published by marco on

The U.S. elections have come and gone. People in other parts of the world—I can attest to Switzerland—were at times exasperated with the amount of coverage in their home countries. That coverage, it seems, pales in comparison to the deluge of information to which Americans themselves were subjected for at least a solid year. And some candidates even started campaigning two years out. The intensity of media saturation was reported to have been prodigious.

Unsurprisingly, many are just glad that it’s over, almost regardless of who actually won the damned thing. It is reported that the amount of money spent on all elections was approximately $5.8 billion. While that pales in comparison to other large numbers we can think of—like the $1.030–$1.415 trillion federal military budget[1] or the $156.3 billion in revenue Apple made in fiscal year 2012—it’s still a lot of money to spend on…what, exactly?

Many of the candidates who were supported most buoyantly by anonymous and very generous donors failed to be elected. This implies that, even in the U.S., it is possible to have a platform that is so odious that even oodles of cash can’t sell it. Another phenomenon that was quite apparent was the amazing depth to which people believed in the separate strand of reality generated by the right-wing media. There are always issues, like Benghazi, that one side will try to sell regardless of the paucity of evidence, simply because the upside is so good. But this year, the entire right-wing press was utterly baffled that Romney did not win in a landslide. This is reality-denial at an extreme level. Now that was a good sales job.

I’m not sure what the operating costs are for Fox News, but money invested into that reality- and consensus-building machine seems to be much better spent than on robo-calls, TV commercials or other standard campaign media.

That is, where the billions poured into traditional campaigning methods failed utterly to get certain candidates elected, billions spent elsewhere managed to make people believe in an entirely alternate reality where arithmetic does not exist.

SuperPAC owners, take heed: you get far more bang for your buck propagandizing through Fox News than negative campaign ads. Or, you could take the advice given in this cartoon by Chan Lowe on November 12th, 2012 (GoComics) (shown below).

 Money down the drain


[1]

To put into perspective how much we spend on the military, the article A Socialist Joins the Presidential Debates by Bruce Lesnick (CounterPunch) compares to the federal education budget:

“If you consider that the $248 billion annual interest payment on the national debt is primarily due to past military spending, the ratio of war to education spending is more than 16 to 1.”