I don’t know about you, but I am sick of seeing on web pages an ad that has a picture of Michelle Obama and text saying, “Stand with Michelle and tell Barack you’re in.” with the little red “are you in?” button underneath. Just about as sick as I am of seeing Dick Lugar ads accusing Richard Mourdock of mudslinging, when I haven’t so much as seen a Mourdock ad yet, let alone one that mud slings. So is this a rant against Obama or Lugar? Not directly.
I am speaking against the campaign ad. Once upon a time, a political candidate got his point across in speeches. You listened to his heartfelt opinions and and made your choice based on that. Then Jack Kennedy won the 1960 election because he looked better in makeup than Dick Nixon did without. Suddenly it became all about three things- image; media; and money.
Obama has raised $151.3 million as of January 31st. Romney has raised $63.6M, Paul $31.0M, Gingrich $18.3M, Santorum $6.6M (most of that IN January). The candidates who have fallen by the wayside have dragged in an additional $58.9M, giving us a grand total of $330. 0M. If you look at just contributions of under $200- the ones likely to come from you and me- the scene changes to this: Obama, $80.2M; Romney $7.6 M (Mitt’s the only one- at 11%- that isn’t at 50%+ small contributions); Paul $18.0M; Gingrich $9.9; and Santorum $3.6M. So out of the $271.1M collected by the big 5, $119.3M is from small contributors.
Data on how much a campaign ad actually costs is hard to come by just nosing around. But I came upon a 1996 study that said that a prime time spot back then airing in NYC ran around $16,875; in LA, $17,250; in Chi-town $7200; and a national ad on 60 Minutes might run $200,000. Another more up-to-date source said a local ad might run up to $2500. So let’s just go with Chicago 1996 for an arbitrary number (Which will be sufficient for my eventual point). Small contributors could have bought 16,569 prime time regional campaign ads. That’s 45 ads a day for a year!
I’ve mentioned before about that we’ve sponsored children for many years. It costs us right now $25 a month, or $300 a year, though with birthdays, special gifts, etc., we might be over $450 in a year. Sponsoring a child gives them better food, medicines, a chance at an education- and the proof that somebody gives a damn. Tell me what good a political ad is when it’s airing, much less when the campaign is over.
We sponsored first Oscar, then Denilson, through Children International. Currently, CI assists over 340,000 children around the world. With the money that contributors of under $200 to presidential candidates ALONE have given as of Jan. 31, 397,666 children could have been sponsored for one year!
I realize that many people can and do give to both. And I realize that we give to both as a means of hopefully changing the world for the better. But I think we would all be better off if we took the money we spend on 1/36th of a campaign ad that is nothing more than a way to help enable people who don’t want to think for themselves, and spend it on 9 months of helping a child get a hot meal, good health, and an education. Next time you want to pass some money on to the “Senator Snort in 2012” campaign- why not pay a visit to a child sponsoring organization instead.