No more TV commercials slamming one candidate or another, or dragging a candidate through foot-deep muck, or propagating bald-faced lies. No more political spin. No more media pundits waxing rhapsodic about demographics and who must win whose vote in order to win. No more ads by nebulous organizations spending millions of dollars to promote their negative worldview.
In America we believe bigger is better, and no place is that more true than in restaurants (especially fast food) and in politics. We have a loud, messy, contentious democracy, but it is a democracy.
This election cycle more than any other, however, we’ve seen money play an ever more important role. Money is power. Money is influence. When money talks, people listen. Our society exemplifies income disparity which seems to be worsening each month. How do people who have enough money to run for public office represent those who don’t have enough money to run?
Governor Romney and President Obama are wealthy men, Romney more so than Obama. The huge difference between them is that Romney has spent a large portion of his life in business, cultivating business contacts and a corporate way of thinking. Obama has not. Romney’s attitude toward people who don’t share his success and income level is condescending at best, dismissive at worst. Obama knows better. I hope that President Obama always remembers where he came from and conducts his life accordingly.
I make no secret of my personal attitude toward money and how it has become so important in American life that whether one has it or not determines one’s success in life. It defines success for us. As a writer, I’m frequently asked if I’ve published and how many of my books have sold. Since I have yet to publish a book (although I contributed to a published anthology in 2000), I am, somehow, not a success. Never mind that I publish two blogs weekly, that I’ve published essays in various places, and that I have completed two novels and I’m currently working on a memoir/health book. Success need not be defined in terms of how much money one has made.
We are technically a multi-party political system with two major parties that hog all the attention and votes. And the money. Our Constitution says that anyone can run for public office if they meet the age and citizenship requirements. But nowadays, there also needs to be an upfront acknowledgement of how much money a prospective candidate needs – whether personal fortune or raised from wealthy friends and corporations – in order to be eligible to run. Forget the little guy who may have excellent ideas and talent for governing this country and who may want to serve. If he or she doesn’t have the big bucks, they can forget it. Will our obsession with money destroy our democracy?
Am I ever glad this election is finally over….