This will be another quickie. I am neck-deep in web development and video production this week, none of it Big Green related, so bear with me.
We are in the midst of another election season, as you know. I could have made that statement at any point in the last eight years, essentially. Our elections are now permanent affairs; the moment one election passes, the next one begins to dominate the national conversation. Sure, elections are important, but the constant focus on horse-race politics, who’s ahead, who’s behind, who’s in/out … distorts our political culture and in many ways makes the country completely ungovernable and, worse, unresponsive to public will. It used to be that, between the elections, policy would be developed, legislated, signed into law, etc. Now there’s no space for any of that. How is that working?
The danger in this is that we have developed a political economy around this practice of perpetual elections. One leg of this stool is the pay-to-play culture of political fundraising. Office holders are spending increasing amounts of their time with potential donors, dialing for dollars and addressing $10,000 a plate dinner crowds. Another leg is the media feeding frenzy that attends every twist and turn of the competition. Plenty of news to be served up, with lots of red meat. And then there’s the ad revenue, in the billions of dollars, ultimately.
This kind of reminds me of Matt’s Christmas song for Romney a couple of years back; he was singing about the planet that Rick Santorum “Christma-formed” so that every day is either Christmas or Christmas Eve. “Each second day is Christmas, preceded by its Eve,” goes the song, as it describes the financial advantages of such an arrangement. I think the way our elections are set up now provides a windfall for power centers in our economy, in ways I discussed and other ways as well. That’s a problem for all of us.
We need to get hold of this process, because honestly … it has a hold on us.