In the last day or so, I’ve noticed a couple of Iowa campaign images showing walls separating candidates from voters, or candidates from the flag. It’s just an association, but I can’t help thinking how this division has something to do with the amount of money flying around.
With the media currently caught up in the spat between Obama and Edwards over 527’s, the larger point, I believe, is how campaign financing offers loopholes for everyone, and how that money is being used to charm, coax, manipulate and patronize the voter while the press cheers along.
The backstage/audience dividing line takes on a particular read once you consider how this presidential race, according to OpenSecrets.org, is on track to take in an unheard of $1 billion, with the Dems, alone, investing about $500 per voter in Iowa, including $150 per head on ads. With those numbers in mind, what the image reflects (to me, at least) is the degree to which these campaigns have turned into extremely big, sophisticated and well-oiled marketing machines with the candidate and the money, message, and image team on one side, and the gullible consumer on the other.
As an echo, click on this image from the NYT’s just released 2007 – The Year in Pictures spread. The photo, by Todd Heisler, was taken at the New York Mercantile Exchange in November as the price of oil headed over $100.
We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric in the campaign about “two Americas.” What we’ve heard next-to-nothing about is how the have’s, backed by monied interests in all shapes and sizes, tap fortunes to buy eyeballs, interest, and ultimately, yes, elections.
(image 1: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times. December 28, 2007. nytimes.com. caption: Rudolph W. Giuliani, top left, at a campaign stop Friday afternoon in Fort Dodge, Iowa. image 2: Todd Heisler/NYT. New York. November, 2007. nytimes.com)