David Lauter’s “Lessons from the Wisconsin recall vote” analysis for the Los Angeles Times made some interesting observations. I liked the way in which he systematically organized those observations according to whom would be affected: Governor (still) Scott Walker, labor unions, President Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney. Nevertheless, there was an interesting omission in each of these categories that has all of the impact of a dead moose on the table (or, as my title suggests, lipstick on a pig). At no point does the analysis try to account for the role of campaign spending or the way in which the Supreme Court has changed such spending practices.
Alexander Hamilton did not
believe in democracy. He believed that giving the vote to the poor was all but
inviting them to sell their votes to the rich. The main thing that has changed
since Hamilton’s day is that politicians are less overt about buying votes.
Thanks to the power of the consciousness
industry, you do not have to persuade the poor to sell their votes.
Instead, you pay the media industry to shape the minds of the poor. The good thing about this is that you
then get what you want from those who are not so poor as part of the bargain.
I would be so bold as to
suggest that in no way did the Wisconsin recall reflect “the voice of the
people” (whatever that may mean). Rather, the consciousness industry was
engaged to create a reasonable facsimile of “the people” and could then count
on that “reasonable facsimile” to do the voting. The result was the best
electoral decision money could buy.
This is far from a closely
guarded secret. The New York Times
now has a Web page called “The 2012 Money Race:
Compare the Candidates.” It provides not only numbers but useful
geographical visualizations. The only problem is that it is not up to date. The
data cover only up to March 31, 2012. We know from a report today by
Jim Kuhnhenn and Ken Thomas for the Associated Press that the balance shifted
significantly in May.
This is not to argue over who
has the latest numbers. Rather, it is to observe that arguing over numbers is
attracting more media attention than arguing over issues. When you consider
that many voters want to think of the coming election as a horse race, this
makes sense. Numbers provide an estimate of the speed of the horse, and any
other significant characteristics are evaporated off into thin air. As we know
from talent shows, people like to vote for a winner and then be part of the
crowd cheering the victory.
Even the wildest nightmares of
Hamilton could not have come up with such a scenario.