Monday, June 8, 2009

Starving the beast

A Wisconsin Political Fix
not just another blog
June 7, 2009

By Bill Kraus

There are some early signs that the new rules of the new "needs" economy, which is quickly and traumatically replacing the "wants" economy that we had all come to overindulge in, may extend to political donating and donations.

Advocacy organizations all seem to be hurting. This is hardly surprising because their contributors are no less immune to market shocks, housing realities, the precipitous drop in automobile industry driven jobs, and lots of trouble in discretionary market sectors generally.

Lobbyists and lobbying organizations are being asked to get along on less. Their clients may even decide that while their expertise and influence are needed, their role as bagmen is going to have to be curtailed.

This could spread.

A candidate is going to find it hard to convince a hard-pressed and less affluent constituency that he or she can't run a successful campaign without a multi-million dollar war chest which will be used to pay for an endless stream of evocative (as opposed to informative) television commercials and other annoyances like automated telephone appeals for money and/or votes.

Even the zealots with their emotional causes will find their appeals are not as effective when addressed to millionaires whose fortunes are impaired and to the rest of us who have hunkered down until and unless we get a bead on a suddenly unfathomable future. People are deciding that eating well or sending their kids to college is more important than whether gays get married, buying automatic weapons we can't afford, gaining icon status from icon-sized contributions, or any of the multitude of ideas large and small that we were willing to throw money at when money was a lot easier and more plentiful.

It may be wishful thinking, but the market may do what good reform ideas and worthy informers haven't been able to do.

The market seems to be saying no to the Hummer and McMansions.

Could lavishly endowed campaigns on issues and for and against candidates suffer the same fate?

The market as the ultimate reformer?

What an idea.

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