The Scandal of US Political Campaigning
The current media circus surrounding the 2012 Presidential election campaign has placed a spotlight on the standard features common to any US political campaign – the soundbites, the petty personal point-scoring, the obsession with image over substance. Whether it's a local election for a city councilman position, a gubernatorial race, or the battle to become President of the United States itself, the same rules apply – they are simply amplified and distorted, the higher up the political food chain the contests go. There is also a slavering focus on “scandals” by the media and the two adversaries' campaigns.
Pseudo-scandal masks the real issue
So as a result, we have been served up a series of scandals throughout this Presidential campaign – Romney's tax status, Obama's attitude to Islamist attacks in Libya, Romney's “binders of women” remark, Obama's supposed lack of gravitas – the list goes on. All these storm-in-a-teacup scandals really do, however, is distract from the biggest scandal surrounding US political campaigning, namely the overwhelming influence of the same big-money donors over both candidates.
Money talks and democracy walks
It's no big secret that to win any US election campaign, you need to have the big bucks behind you. The late, great Gore Vidal first coined the expression “the property party” to describe the de facto one-party state hidden behind the Republican and Democrat “wings”, and it was he who recalled giving up a political career when he realised that he would have to raise $10,000 each day after being elected simply to ensure his re-election. In fact, since the mid-20th century, the candidate who has raised the most campaigning cash at Congressional level or higher has won the election more than 95% of the time!
Puppets of Wall Street and the mega-corps
By the time Election Day dawns next month, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will have raised over $1 billion each for direct campaigning, with a further billion summoned up by their “arms-length” campaign groups. And where has this money come from? Well Mitt Romney's top five benefactors are all Wall Street banks, while Obama has been treated to $700,000 worth of largesse from Google and Microsoft. It is very unlikely that either candidate will be wishing to displease any of these once elected.