The anti-corruption group Represent.US has decided to run a fake political campaign in Kentucky. It is hilarious, as I will show you in a moment. But it does bother me to some extent. The reason is that focusing attention on corruption during a campaign doesn’t cause people to get involved as much as to not even bother to vote. And when that happens, it hurts the liberal cause—at least in the short term. In the long term, who knows? But I’m rather cynical about getting money out of politics. Campaigns like Represent.US strike me as going for a knock out blow when the best bet is always to push back—work for marginal reform.
Our most recent problem with political corruption is that Republican Presidents have appointed Supreme Court justices who have defined corruption so narrowly that it basically doesn’t exist. According to John Roberts, handing a pile of cash to a politician while winking at him is not corruption. According to him, what you need is to have the CEO of an arms contractor hand a politician a pile of cash; the CEO must say, “I’m giving you this pile of cash so that you will give me the contract for blah blah blah; the politician must then say, “Because I am getting this pile of cash, I am going to give you the contract for blah blah blah”; and this must all be done during halftime at the Super Bowl when at least 15 cameras and microphones record it. Then you have corruption. Otherwise, “What corruption? Sure I took plenty of money from that CEO but his company just happened to be the best one for blah blah blah.”
The truth is that in the Kentucky race, if the Democrat Grimes wins, it will only be barely. And ads and other political events that will tend to equate them might be all the difference in the world. And if the Senate goes Republican next year and one of the Supreme Court justices dies, it is almost certain that the Senate will not approve any replacement that Obama proposes. And if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, you can kiss the Supreme Court goodbye for next two decades at least.
On the other hand, Alison Lundergan Grimes seems to have a good campaign, and might be able to leverage this Represent.US campaign. It is very clear that McConnell will certainly have more money over all and more money from outside the state. And, as I show further below, there is some false equivalence going on from Represent.US. But maybe I see things this way just because I’m old and fearful and I’ve only seen this country become more and more of an oligarchy. But given the current state of things, our only hope is a Constitutional Amendment. And I’m not sure this ad campaign leads us in that direction so much as it leads us to, “Both sides suck, let’s not vote!” Because I assure you, the rich know who will cut their taxes, and they will vote.
Having said all that, this videos are great. Here is Gil Fulbright for Senate:
I do actually have a policy problem with this video. Of the three things that Represent.US thinks are beyond question worth doing, I disagree with two. A “Balanced Budget” is not necessarily a good idea ever and it certainly isn’t now. And “Education Reform” has become nothing but a dog whistle for “test more and destroy teachers’ unions.” As for the one I don’t disagree with—”Healthcare Reform”—I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to be, given we just got it and we are watching it work while conservatives continue to claim it isn’t. But otherwise, I agree with it all and it is really funny.
The next is Net Neutrality:
That one is just pure genius. The fake download delay indicator is brilliant as is the tag line, “I’m Gil Fulbright; for the right price, I’ll approve any message!”
And the last of the fake campaign ads is, Healthcare Costs:
Whoever the actor is, he’s great. But I have a bit of a policy complaint about this one too. Obamacare is a great thing for the healthcare industry. It is, after all, the conservative healthcare reform law. So the Republicans being against it really isn’t about what their funders are saying. And the bill also puts stimulus into the economy, so it’s good for all businesses, just as the SNAP program is. So it isn’t just about money in politics. The Republican Party really has gone off the ideological north pole where a compass is useless. They don’t know why they believe some things. And that’s definitely the case when it comes to healthcare.
That’s it for the ads. This last one is kind of an infomercial for Represent.US. And it’s kind of pathetic, even dangerous. They say they want people to rise up and pass tough new anti-corruption laws. Well, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court recently overturned just such a law in Montana. It might have been nice if there had been one less Republican appointed justice and one more Democrat appointed justice—regardless of my many problems with the Democratic Party.
But we are told in the video that McConnell and Grimes are just the same. The narrator says, “Three-quarters of both candidates money is coming from outside of Kentucky.” But it actually shows that while Grimes is getting 3/4 of her money from outside Kentucky, McConnell is getting 7/8 of his money from outside Kentucky. I don’t mean to nitpick, but this is the kind of thing that makes matters worse. We’ve seen this time and again: if you claim there is no difference when there is still a notable difference, you benefit the worse person. And note: thus far in the election, McConnell has raised more than double what Grimes has. But there is no indication of that in their little infographic. In fact, their infographic implies that they have as much money.
So the ads are funny and I’m all for satire. But I’m not too keen on Represent.US and I don’t think they are too clear on what they are doing. You are better off giving your money to Wolf Pac, which may not be as entertaining, but has a better plan.