BRYCE ON POLITICS
– The answer may surprise you.
You might be interested to know, the winner of the 2020 presidential race will not be one of the declared candidates, but rather the news media. It doesn’t seem that long ago we had our first $1 Billion campaign, shocking everyone, but we are now well past this point. In fact, according to Opensecrets.org, which tracks campaign donations, 2020 will likely end up costing a whopping $11 Billion, thereby smashing all prior records, the last being 2016 where candidates spent up to $6.5 Billion. In the presidential campaigns alone, Opensecrets estimates approximately $5.2 Billion will have been spent, easily beating the 2008 election record of $2.8 Billion.
No matter how you slice it, it is an obscene amount of money to elect our government officials. Shouldn’t we be spending this money on something more useful?
Two reasons for the dramatic increase; first, the Democrats’ desperate attempt to re-take the White House and Congress (forcing the Republicans to respond in kind), and; Two, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the uptick. Because people felt house-bound, the candidates were impelled to reach out to voters through television, radio, Internet, print publications, and direct mail. Not surprising, Democrats are outspending Republicans considerably.
In this country, political campaigns fuel the media. Without such campaigns, the media would be crippled, and this is really what I want to discuss. Trust in journalism in this country continues to abate. According to a 2019 Gallup Poll, trust in the mass media has fallen from a high of 68% in 1972 to 41% in 2019 (I suspect it is even lower today). More and more people are going elsewhere for information rather than trusting the “Fake News.” It is a sad day when we trust social media over trained journalists, but such are the times we live in. In other words, despite the billions made by the Media Industrial Complex, the American public doesn’t feel they are getting their money’s worth.
The animosity dividing the country is less due to ideology, and more attributed to the main stream media. Instead of honest journalism in this country, we are offered up a plate of intrigue and anger by the media, which divides the country further. Consider this, put two groups of people in two separate rooms, one with news (with whatever form of media you prefer), and one without. The group exposed to the news will likely show signs of angst and frustration, the other will not.
Also, consider network news such as CNN, Fox, and MSNBC would likely be gone if it wasn’t for the money they receive from elections. So, it is in their best interests to “stir the pot” and keep their audiences on edge. By doing so, they develop addicts who tune in to get their daily fix of anger.
This is why I have long touted the need for electoral reform. The fact we find ourselves in a constant election cycle is not healthy for the candidates or the country. Our process is way too long and should be shortened radically, such as to 60 or 90 days, as is done in other countries. By doing so, politicians no longer have to be obsessed with canvassing for campaign donations and spend more time serving their constituents (which is why we elected them in the first place). It would also finally put some of these “Fake News” hacks out to pasture.
Don’t like shortening the cycle? How about for every dollar paid to the media, another dollar must be paid to a special fund for improving our infrastructure. This should cause politicians to rethink their campaign finances and, at the same time, would do some good for the country.
Just remember, the news media is the real winner of elections, not politicians. With the passing of each election, the news media becomes more massive and uncontrollable. It is long overdue for us to tame the beast that is dividing us.
Keep the Faith!
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Copyright © 2020 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.