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Archive for August 4th, 2010

Queen Meg

Whenever I read anything about Meg Whitman’s money-encrusted crusade to become the next Governor of California, I am filled with all sorts of thoughts.  Thoughts and revulsion.

She’s already spent $100 million in her quest, $91M of it her own, to quash Democrat Jerry Brown.  Without even considering how much better that money could serve the world, it seems to me that she doesn’t seem to be getting much bang for her buck  as Brown is leading her in recent polls, even though he has yet to spend a million dollars on his campaign.  Brown has always been one for austerity.

He has also been receiving a lot of help from groups who oppose Whitman, such as the nurses’ union, the California Nurses Association,  that came up with the character shown to the left here, Queen Meg.  Queen Meg follows Whitman’s campaign all over the state of California, showing up to make royal proclamations such as her being “rich enough to rule.”  It has been quite effective.

Now I’m not naive enough to think that Whitman is the first to try to buy her way into office.  Just think a few years back to Jon Corzine’s campaign in New Jersey.  Although we pride ourselves as a nation on our claims of being a democracy of the people, our history is primarily one of the wealthy dominating our political landscape. 

In the past, our press held the primary position of protecting our democracy against these incursions from the ruling class, holding their feet to the fire over the accuracy of their statements and the the overall direction in which they wanted to lead us.  I know that the press soemtimes came up short in this aspect but the threat of having the truth exposed was always there.

But we live in a post-press world now and candidates like Whitman can use their money to push  half-truths and non-truths on their potential constituency in old and new ways without little fear that their statements will be fully challenged.  And even if they are challenged, the statements are already out there and many of those who heard them will not even recognize that they have been discredited.  The wealthy candidate has the resources to overcome the power of whatever free press is left in this society.  So, they shamelessly spend.  Or shill for more money.

Take for example, Sharron Angle, the Nevadan Tea Partier who is vying for Harry Reid’s seat.  She refuses to speak with press, often nearly breaking into a trot to avoid their microphones and cameras.  That is, she refuses to speak to those who won’t allow her to make plugs for donation on her website.  She makes no excuses for her behavior or her disregard for the responsibility of the press, saying that while she would like  “to have the press be our friend,” she wants the press “ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported.”  That even has the folks at Fox News scratching their head in disbelief.

So, I lament once again the loss of the protection an active and free press once offered to the populace.  It obviously wasn’t perfect in practice but this glimpse of a post-press world is much worse.  The wealthy will continue to try to maintain their political power, selling it to us, unchecked,  with the idea, much like the concept of supply-side economics, that if their policies are good for  the wealthy, they are ultimately good for us all.

Hopefully, the good people of California are not buying it.

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