Thursday, November 8, 2012

Money, money, money

This quote from an article in today’s Washington Post says volumes about why the Romney team lost this week’s presidential election:

“Wealthy donors were so central to Romney’s campaign that a swarm of private luxury jets caused a traffic jam at Boston’s airport Tuesday just before the nominee’s election-night party.”
(Page A27, article entitled “Spending a lot, with little effect” that begins on page A1.)

They were all dressed up with nowhere to go. The fat cats’ big gamble didn’t pay off. They didn’t get the outcome that they thought they paid for. It was possibly their worst investment ever.

Just after the primary season, when Romney won the nomination of the Republican Party I started paying attention. I really wanted to keep an open mind, to consider that he could have a plan that would move this country in the right direction. His plan was like Jell-O. He couldn’t explain it well enough to give me any sense of what he was going to do to improve my country, to make my life better.

At the same time I was looking for substance, I began seeing Romney signs all over the place. Big, obnoxious signs that dwarfed the few Obama signs out there. They posted painted elephant signs high on telephone poles. Down the street I watched as a Romney campaign worker surrounded a lonely Obama sign with a ring of bigger Romney signs so that the Obama sign was no longer visible. That was the moment that did it for me. The Romney signs became like mosquito bites and they were beginning to itch. One, two, three . . . soon too many to count.

Gradually Mitt Romney and his wife Ann started to seem like Ken and Barbie dolls. They had the place in Malibu and the cars and all those Ken clone sons. They didn’t seem like regular people. How could they understand what it’s like to lose a job or to wonder how to afford health insurance? Romney has more money than most of us can imagine and his campaign was spending much more money than we could imagine to get him elected president. The itch was getting worse.

The wealthy donors funded all sorts of anti-Obama campaigns, either directly through the Republican Party or through other more slippery funding schemes. They began to look greedy and self-serving. They thought money was the answer. They just didn’t get it.

Not for a second do I think I’m the only one who had a negative reaction to all the spending. Surely those same campaign signs and all those hours of advertising seemed excessive to other undecided voters. We did the only thing we could do—we voted for the other guy so we could send the greedy people a message that we aren’t impressed by their campaign coffers.

Romney missed one big chance to redeem himself. When megastorm Sandy hit the East Coast so hard, he could have taken the high road. He could have suspended his campaign and donated the rest of the money to be spent on storm relief efforts. To be fair, Obama’s campaign could have done it too.

The money wasted on both sides in this presidential election process makes me ill. Think about how it could have been better spent. Worried about terrorism? We could have built hospitals and schools in Afghanistan, trained teachers and doctors to lessen some of their hate for us ugly Americans. Worried about reliance on foreign oil? We could have funded research and development of alternatives to fossil fuels while creating jobs in this country. Worried about skyrocketing health care costs? We could have worked to cure cancer or diabetes or heart disease.

The people who flew to Boston in their private jets on Tuesday found out the party wasn’t going to be much fun. I wonder if the outcome of their big investment will change how they will fund the campaign four years from now.

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