Distraction and Waste: The Great Electioneering Spending Stimulus

I’m hearing reports that nearly $1 billion has already been spent on US House elections alone. Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics predicts “$3.7 billion will be spent on this midterm election.” That’s 30% more than last time. It’s no surprise that the more legal plunder government is able to redistribute, the more people are willing to spend to gain control of the state. Obama is making Bush the Younger look thrifty and the next president will likely do the same for him. The increase in electoral spending will continue apace.

Such a distraction and waste of money political elections, especially national elections, are. As I explained in Voting, Moral Hazard, and Like Buttons: “The very existence of [a] centralized voting system for deciding public matters of moral importance encourages citizens to focus their energies on this formal democratic process, which is to say that it encourages the wasting of time and money on vote getting (or buying), at the expense of getting anything actually productive done in a timely fashion.”

Republicans distracted their base from important issues, for example, by whipping up ignorant, bigoted hysteria and rage at Muslims and the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” Fellow TLS blogger Matt Mortellaro recently discussed their latest gambit, an attempt to defund NPR (and PBS), ostensibly saving $608 million dollars next year, under the guise of defending the 1st Amendment rights of a liberal political pundit (Juan Williams) because he said something they like about Muslims. Political theater.

So let’s see… $3.7b spent (by Demopublicans) vs. $608m saved. Nice.

Well, at least all that spending is stimulating the economy… Oh wait.

Imagine what could be accomplished with all that wasted money, manpower, and brain power if only it were spent on — nay, invested in — something other than electoral politics. New companies started, existing ones expanded, more actually productive jobs created. Productive innovation in business models, manufacturing, science, technology. Socio-economic problems solved by direct action.

But forget all that. I guess it’s more important to get the “right guy” elected so we don’t have to be “fearful of the state” for a few years. Good luck. I suspect the Tea Party Congressional candidates and the next Republican president will prove just as disappointing to Republicans as Obama was to Democrats though.


Cross-posted at Is-Ought GAP.