OUR VIEWS: What a waste!

Oct 19, 2012


And all of this is happening while news headlines announce rising food and fuel prices, and the slashing of food and shelter funds for the needy of our country and our county.

This is shameful and disgusting.

We’re not blaming the candidates. The rules allow it — and if one candidate does it, so will the other.

There is public funding of elections, but candidates have the choice to opt out of it and raise their own nest egg.

The problem is also fueled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, which stated that “restrictions on corporate independent expenditures are invalid.”

The big factor in 2012 is outside money. These elections — presidential and congressional — are the first in which new, post-Citizens United rules will have been operative for the entire two-year campaign cycle.

While outside spending groups existed in previous presidential election cycles, the Supreme Court decision and other legal developments led to the proliferation of super PACs and the growth of other outside spending groups that don’t have to disclose their donors. As a result, spending by outside groups will make up a far larger proportion of the total spent in the 2012 election than in previous campaign cycles.

And how are all these campaign dollars spent? It appears to us that they are used to pay for negative ads that are often untruthful or try to spin an opponents’ quote out of context.

We could certainly do without those.

Many voters would welcome the campaigns of yesteryear when the presidential nominees traveled by train across the country, speaking to voters in various towns from the back of a caboose. Wow, how refreshing that would be!

We don’t honestly expect Obama and Romney to hop on the back of an Amtrak train and tour the country, but we would like to see candidates receive a much more conservative set amount of money to spend on their campaigns. They could also continue to have televised debates that wouldn’t cost them or the taxpayers anything.

Or, here’s a novel idea: Run an ad that praises your virtues instead of slandering your opponent. That, at the very least, would be money well spent.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Yes, too much money is spent on campaigns, yes, it would be nice to have ads that promote a candidate's positives instead of tearing down an opponent, No, Citizens United is not the problem. Citizens United simply upheld the First Amendment. That the decision was correct is supported by conservative and liberal legal analysts, including the ACLU and Elliot Spitzer. The decision essentially permits corporations to spend corporate funds on elections. It levels the playing field with unions, which have always been able to expend union dues on election advertising (as well as giving support through boots on the ground), but, as noted by Spitzer, it also levels the playing field with spending by corporations that is not obviously election advertising: He told Bill Maher that there is no distinction between some shows on the airwaves — all owned by corporations — and a company’s participation in politics through paid advertising.

“Your show is owned by a corporation,” Spitzer said to Maher. “You have a First Amendment right. And so I don’t know how you distinguish between the New York Times editorial page, The Rachel Maddow Show, George [Stephanopoulos]‘s show — all owned by corporations.”

“The First Amendment,” he reminded Maher, says government “shall pass no law abridging the right of speech.” The Grand Haven Tribune is a corporation, and I doubt the Tribune would like to be told it can't advocate for candidates in slanted news coverage, editorials, or "Our Opinion" pieces. Maybe we can explore limiting the dollar amount of contributions, or making donors more transparent, but the best way of limiting the amount of money spent is by the voting public making candidates who overspend, run negative ads, have PACS who run negative ads, or false or misleading ads, pay at the ballot box. I'm all for that, but against messing with the First Amendment.


Well said Vlad! Awesome, to bad more people do not take the time to make informed decisions. I have often said people are like cows. They see one move and the whole herd follows.


I agree....WHAT A WASTE!
All that money spent to influence an election, all that money that could be put to better use.
All that money spent by corporations pleading poverty, that they NEED lower tax rates to remain competitive.
SIX BILLION would do wonders if donated to help the downtrodden, instead it is spent to influence an election in an effort to help themselves (you KNOW they expect to be rewarded for their "help").
SIX BILLION could help reduce the federal deficit; I am sure these individuals and corporations complain about the size of the deficit.
All this spending on ads SHOULD be accompanied by a name and a face of the buyer. That doesn't restrict free speech......you will still be free to say what you want, but you should be willing to acknowledge that it is YOU saying it. You can STILL exercise your right to free speech...you just have to accept the consequences.....good or bad. They should NOT be able to hide behind a misleading "Committee for A Better America" type name.......OWN YOUR OPINION, or don't express it......stop hiding.


Well said, Vlad!


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