Friday, October 10, 2014

Voters matter less

Images via the late Needtagger.
Shorter David Brooks, "Money Matters Less", New York Times, October 10 2014:
Silly Democrats, worrying themselves sick over that Citizens United decision. Turns out they got plenty of money out of the deal too! Though not so much secret money, I guess. Anyway it hardly matters, since the more money is involved, the less it influences the voters, so it's all good.
Being Brooks, he can't imagine any reason for objecting to the floods of campaign money other than the FOMO angle, that is the fear that if my opponents can have all the money they can scrape together, I might lose. The nonpartisan idea that it could just be a bad thing in general to have candidates spending all their waking moments grubbing for funds instead of reading about policy, or donors representing particular parochial interests essentially buying politicians' attention, so that the richer you are the more attention you get, doesn't occur to him at all.

Buying votes was a problem 200 years ago, it's not a problem now.  Campaign spending, mostly on TV advertising, doesn't work very well at getting voters out—though it's pretty good, as Republicans well know, at persuading voters on the other side to stay home. You could try the old-school technique of buying votes with beers, but that's been really illegal for a long time, and people are smart enough in any event to take the beer and do whatever they want in the privacy of the booth.

Buying politicians who believe it works, with campaign contributions, is the problem now. It's why we can't have an equitable tax system, an adequate regulation of industry, a hopeful plan for reversing or mitigating global warming.

Brooks brings out a lunatic metaphor:
We’re now at a moment when a fire hose of money is trying to fill the same glasses of voters. 
I don't think he's thought that through very carefully: you can't get any water in a glass at all with a firehose; you can only knock the glass over. But it's not the vessels of voters that are in question, it's the immense and yawning artificial lakes of the parties and 501(C) organizations, for which all the firehoses in the world would hardly be enough.

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