Walter Saves the Union
I've come to a conclusion or two, chief among them that I should invest in the first Rollerball team I can find. Cuz we're sure as hell heading for that future, you betcha.
Rollerball aside, it has been pointed out by others, among them our president, that the ruling does not prevent foreign corporations, or foreign governments using their corporations as a beard, from buying ad time on our networks. So we wouldn't simply have the Congressman from GM or the Senator from Agribusiness--- which is sad, for all that we're used to it--- so instead we could have the Governor from France or the President from the People's Republic of China. (Oh, wait, never mind . . . that's our last four or five presidents anyway.)
As Adam Smith remarked, businessmen "never gathered together even for a social purpose save to conspire against the public interest." (Yes, that was said by the first and greatest theoretician of capitalism, and not by Michael Moore.) So we're shortly going to be subjected to vast numbers of political ads urging us to destroy the environment, take loans at exorbitant rates of interest, shift the tax burden to the middle class, and otherwise hand our money and power to the rich who, being rich and powerful already, have more use for it than we do.
And why do all our politicians need those enormous war chests, anyway? Both the Democrats and Republicans spent over a billion dollars apiece last year trying to elect a president. A billion dollars apiece. Just for one office.
If this isn't an invitation to corruption, then what is?
I propose to cut temptation off at the knees. I suggest the following law: "No person or entity may advertise on broadcast television for any political purpose or cause, ever. Ever. This means you."
Now, it may surprise you to know--- particularly in this era of reality TV, when everyone gets to be a star sooner or later, sooner if they're loud and stupid--- that there is no constitutional right to appear on television. The courts have ruled this every time the Klan or the American Nazi Party tries to buy an ad.
This doesn't mean that our fine politicos and their well-heeled secret masters won't be able to get their message out. They'll still have newspapers, radio, and the Internet.
But you know what those media have in common? They're cheap! You don't need a billion dollars to buy ads in those media. The politicians won't have to hustle their butts like streetwalkers on Sunday morning in order to raise money.
So let's start spreading this meme! No political ads on television--- ever. For anybody.
The networks will scream like stuck pigs. (Another reason to do it, in my opinion.) The networks will wail about losing billions in income. And y'know what--- I don't care! Besides, it isn't even true, they'll just sell the air time to someone else. It's not like the nation lacks for advertisers.
And if we're concerned that the networks aren't covering politics enough because they're spending all their broadcast time on American Idol and entertainment news, you can mandate that they spend a certain number of hours in the election cycle covering the election, analyzing the candidates' positions, covering debates, and maybe even exposing the witless pandering regularly barfed up by politicians, and covered by media as if it were gospel. (Nawwww--- that one's too much to expect.)
And while we're reforming elections, let's take our cue from the Germans, and institude a Truth in Advertising commission like I saw back in 1980. The Germans have a nonpartisan commission which reviews every political ad before it's run, and if it's untrue, or overly inflammatory, the ad can't run, and no one ever sees it. You might think that this would take all the fun out of elections, but I can assure you that despite ads being forced to speak something approximating the truth, Helmut Schmidt and Franz-Joseph Strauss beat each other bloody at the polls in one of the most entertaining elections I can remember. (I also remember this line from the televised debates: "Stop calling me a Nazi, you fucking Commie faggot!" I mean jeez, for a second there I thought I was watching professional wrestling.)
So there. I have now thrown to you the football. Please run with it, and score.