In a prior folly
we questioned whether congress or corporations were driving the
campaign contribution race. Some questions were raised about ways to
limit the need for such large amounts of money. The primary cost of
running a campaign has become the expense of TV and radio ads. The
media gives almost no air time to interviews of the candidates or
discussions of their positions. They prefer, when they discuss
elections at all, to concentrate on the top race (usually the
presidential race) and then only on the race dynamics. Not the
policies. So if a candidate is going to reach voters he must pay for
As suggested laws could be passed to change the financial dynamics.
These could be in form of granting free air time or the government
could set up a government sponsored broadcast service, as is done in
many other parts of the world, where candidates and elected officials
could discuss their polices.
Why don't proposal like these ever get anywhere? It's because of the
unbalanced powers of the politicians and the broadcast media. In
today's world things almost don't exist if they don't appear on
television. So when the media decides to influence a politicians
position they can choose to ignore him, or give prominence to his
opponents or, most recently, use paid pundits to attack him on air.
The threat of having your political career damaged is enough to keep
politicians in line. So no proposals that would cut into the revenue
stream of the broadcast media or would lessen their influence with the
public ever get any serious consideration.
It is possible that the recent rise of the internet as an alternative
source of information may alter the balance of power in the future, but
for the moment the broadcast media continue to blackmail congress.
Moral: If you want to express your opinions buy
your own printing press
to see all my essays in context.
If you have any comments you would like to add email me
Copyright © 2004 Robert D Feinman
Feel free to use the ideas, but the words are mine.