Big Money 1Big Money in Control of Politics Brett C. George
Big Money 2 Big Money in Control of Politics Did you prepare for voting in the 2008 Presidential Election by watching the televiseddebates? If you answered yes, were you given enough information from each candidate on yourstates ballot to make a responsible decision? The answer is no. In fact, you only saw theviewpoints of the two major party candidates, Senator Barak Obama and Senator John McCain.The truth is that six candidates were on the ballot in enough states to mathematically win amajority of Electoral College votes in the election. According to Center for Responsive Politics(2009), those participants left out were Ralph Nader-Independent, Bob Barr-Libertarian, ChuckBaldwin-Constitution Party, and Cynthia McKinney-Green Party. So why were Sen. Obama andSen. McCain the only participants in the televised debates for the highest office in the UnitedStates Government? The answer is the disparity between the Commission on PresidentialDebates requirements for participating in these debates, the amount of campaign finance for eachcandidate, and the unfair gate-keeping of an irresponsible media. Who is allowed to participate in the National Presidential Debates is determined by theCommission on Presidential Debates (CPD). According to the CPDs 2008 Non-PartisanSelection Criteria for participating in the national debates, an individual candidate must showevidence of Constitutional eligibility to run for the office of President, show evidence of ballotsuccess (i.e. a mathematical chance of winning a majority of electoral votes), and have indicatorsof electoral support (i.e. candidates need support of at least 15 percent of national electorate)(Commission on Presidential Debates, 2007). All of the six candidates I have discussed so farqualified under the first two criteria, but only the two major party candidates made the third andfinal cut. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Taking a look at how the indicators of electoral supportfigures are calculated gives us our answer.
Big Money 3 Electoral support is determined by five selected national public opinion pollingorganizations. The CPD uses the average of these five organizations most recently publishedpolls to determine who will participate in the National Debates (Commission on PresidentialDebates, 2007). Clearly, the candidates who are the most visible to the general public stand tobenefit from these national polling efforts, as the majority of those surveyed have had purposefulbombardment by media, for the two richest candidates, and very limited exposure to the smaller,more financially challenged other four major candidates. The 2008 Presidential election saw record numbers for campaign spending. According toCenter for Responsive Politics (2009), Sen. Obama took home top honors in this fiscalirresponsibility, spending 730 million U.S. dollars on his campaign!! Sen. McCain did his best tokeep up with his fellow White House hopeful, spending 333 million respectively. The other fourcandidates fell drastically short with a total of 5.35 million spent combined!!!!! This disparity offinancial backing amongst the candidates is deplorable! The spending frenzy of major parties inPresidential elections is representative of the hoggishness that is the elitist class of white collarpolitics. With these funds at their disposal, the richest of the candidates get the most exposurethrough advertising among the various media outlets. Mass media has many forms. Television, radio, magazines, and billboards are just a fewexamples of mass media. These forms of communication run advertisements for a predeterminedprice, based on visibility. The cost of becoming "visible" to the general public is how mediaparticipates in the unfair gate-keeping of modern politics. For example, we will look at ahypothetical scenario where television stations charge 1,000 U.S. dollars for one 30 second adduring its on-air broadcasts. Barak Obama would have been able to purchase 730,000 ads on thisstation during the election year. That is 2,000 ads per day!! McCain could have purchased 912ads each day. The other four candidates could purchase only 14 ads per day between them. That
Big Money 4total gives each candidate, at best, three and a half ads each day to gain exposure through paidmedia advertising. Just to put those figures into perspective, at that price, Obamas commercialcould run approximately once every 90 seconds, while one of the four financially challengedcandidates commercials is seen approximately once every 823 minutes!! Like I said before,deplorable!! This unfair gate-keeping by an irresponsible media leads to the exclusion ofmathematically eligible candidates from the televised National Presidential Debates. In conclusion, it is through the disparity between the Commission on PresidentialDebates requirements for participating in these debates, the amount of campaign finance for eachcandidate, and the unfair gate-keeping of an irresponsible media that keep the average Americanuninformed of their options for leadership. In a country where the founding principles are basedon all men being created equal, it would seem a shameful act to exclude anyone their right to beheard based on the size of their wallet.
Big Money 5 ReferencesCenter for Responsive Politics. (2009). Banking on becoming president. retrieved October 4,2009, from http://www.opensecrets.orgCommission on Presidential Debates. (2007). Candidate selection process. retrieved October 4,2009, from http://www.debates.org