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Post election myths

TOM BURGUM
Staff Columnist
burgum@lbknews.com

In the aftermath of almost any election, commentators and talking heads perpetrate a number of myths that purport to explain why whatever happened, happened. The losing side usually is active in this effort in order to explain why they were pummeled by the electorate. The aftermath of the 2014 midterm elections is no different.

The corrupting influence of money especially that spent on behalf of the other side is a myth that plays into the hallmark of progressive politics, at least in its current incarnation. This line of reasoning is very current in the post election debate.

Last Wednesday, the day after the election, I received the following email from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DNCCC): “The Republicans broke Washington. Then they spent millions of dollars of secret money running against a broken Washington.”  Quite an indictment although those who have watched the Republicans struggle to bring forth a coherent message in the last six years might think accusing them of a high level of Machiavellian machinations is a bit more complimentary than Republicans deserve.

The Huffington Post weighed in with, “Cash from unknown sources is flooding the most important races,” and the “integrity of our elections is being undermined.” You have to admire the Post’s ability to stir the embers by emphasizing that the problem is “unknown sources flooding” not just any state but the “important” states.

Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, had a decidedly mixed message. He complained that, “Despite the climate movement’s significant investments and an unprecedented get-out-the-vote program, strong voices for climate action were defeated and candidates paid for by corporate interests and, bolstered by sinister voter suppression tactics, won the day.”

What Brune appears to be saying is that the Sierra Club put in a lot of money and effort and they still didn’t win and he is a bit sore about it. There is, of course, the use of inflammatory words that separate Sierra Club spending from corporate interests that use sinister methods to prevail. Maybe some one should suggest to Brune that a big part of his problem is that  a majority of voters have yet to believe that Unicorns pooping green energy will replace oil, gas, coal and nuclear power in the near future.

Money did play an outsized role in 2014 but the idea Democrats were drowned in a flood of secret money in the important states is what our British friends might call a load of old cobs. North Carolina, an important state by any calculation, saw the Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan, outspend Republican Thom Tillis by more than $14 million. When the efforts of outside groups to support one side or the other are factored in, Hagan benefited from approximately $7 million more spending than did her Republican opponent.

Joni Ernst, the successful Republican challenger for the Iowa senate seat was out spent by $2.4 million in regular campaign funds but spending by outside groups gave Ernst a $1.8 million edge overall. To put it another way, a $1.8 million edge in an election costing $85 million can hardly be typified as drowning your opponent in money.

A panel on CNN’s election night coverage brought forth allegations that Democrats were drowned in a flood of secret money from corporate interests and, of course, corporate interests are always despicable. Paul Begala, long-time Democratic campaign operative and former advisor to President Clinton, weighed in with, as I remember it, “Stop it, there was enough money on both sides.”

The leftist Center for Responsive Politics, not to be left out of the myth-creating business, was aghast at the amount of money being spent and, one suspects, the lack of result given all the money spent by the Democrats. It was, they accurately noted, “the most expensive election in history.” They then upped the ante with charges such as, our democracy is being ‘bought and sold” or the election is “debased by money and shames us all.”

Whatever else it is, it’s nonsense. Approximately $3.67 billion was spent during the two year election cycle on congressional races. This level of spending, if compared to other areas of our society, is not out of line. Americans in one year spend $83 billion on beer; lottery tickets cost the country $69 billion; Americans spend $6 billion on potato chips, which not only is almost twice what is spent on the congressional campaigns but goes a long way in explaining the obesity problem in the country. Our political pundits and talking heads haven’t yet scolded us about $11 billon laid out for porn but worry that $3.67 spent on congressional elections over a two year period debases the nation.

President Obama is the god father of another myth. There is an idea abroad in the land that holds the election message is that the voters elected Republican senators, congressmen and congresswomen, governors, and state legislators to, in Obama’s words, work with him, “to get the job done.”

Question is, of course, just what job is that? And, what do the voters want done? There is an implication in any talking head discussion in the media that Republicans are now obligated to help Obama pass his agenda. This, of course, is ridiculous and is a good example of the extreme asininities the main stream media is some times capable of serving us.

If the voters’ main concern was simply getting something done, regardless of what that something is, they would have voted for Democrats who could be counted on to work with Obama. The voters didn’t. They elected Republicans who had already been found guilty of breaking Washington by the DNCCC. Maybe, just maybe, the message was for Obama to moderate his agenda and work with the Republicans.

Myths are stubborn things and we will continue to hear evil corporate money drowned the Democratic message and the voters, in a fit of mass insanity, tried to help Obama overcome Republican opposition by electing more Republicans.

 

 

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1 Response for “Post election myths”

  1. Tim Kelly says:

    Very concise and insightful, and true. You should place links on your pages to enable readers to easily share articles on Facebook, Twitter, et al.

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