THE TV – “…and, if elected, I shall balance the budget, make good things happen, cure cancer,… “ Gad, the presidential election is still almost a year away, and I’m already getting bored with it, which is not good for a patriotic American who — just like you — wants to put a President in office who will see things my way and do what I wish. Now I must endure countless TV ads, debates and stupid, impossible promises from people who bash Washington, the federal government and those who make the machinery work — and can hardly wait to join them. Can these candidates even spell hypocrisy?
But you and I can turn a healthy buck on this. As you know, every four years there is a lot of hand-wringing over how much money is raised and spent on the campaigns, and every candidate brags how his or her donations come from “the little people, grass roots Americans.” Yeah, if those grass roots are the Koch brothers’ putting green or George Soros’ polo field. Regardless of who gives, the amount increases. For the last presidential election in 2012 it was estimated, by someone with obviously too much time on his hands, that the Obama and Romney campaigns spent close to $1.12 billion — not counting the millions more spent by the parties and outside PACs, which have a secret accounting system.
But it’s getting worse. There have already been seven times more political ads for the 2016 presidential election than at this point in the 2012 election. When you toss in all federal races, not just the presidential campaigns, political TV ad spending will top $4.4 billion, up from $3.8 billion in 2012. Mere peanuts. Are you ready for this? The total number of dollars spent on the 2012 election exceeded the number of people on this planet. About $7 billion was spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the 2012 election, according to a review of campaign finance reports by the Federal Election Commission. Seven billion dollars! This next time it will be even more. Some people are going to receive that money. Why not us?
Most of these funds go to TV ads. That means the local stations get the money, and feed it back into the local economy. Uh, no it doesn’t work that way. Here in Texas, for example, virtually all, if not all, local TV stations are owned by out-of-state (read: east coast and west coast) corporations. In Houston, for example, the major TV stations are owned by the Washington Post, Disney, TEGNA and Faux News (Rupert Murdoch). So much for the local angle. But millions more bucks are spent as the candidates’ tours, for hotel rooms, ballrooms, caterers, drivers, food tasters and bodyguards. So how can we grab our fair share of the loot? We can’t, unless we move to a so-called Battleground State, where the outcome of the election is in doubt. Texas is a red state, meaning the Republicans will win every election so, it is reasonably reasoned by both parties, that there is no point is spending a dime here. But they do come for money, and the Republicans hold all the cards — and cash. Behind our backs, Texas is known as “the GOP’s ATM.”
The only time any of that money came back to Texas was in 2008 when Hillary and Barack were both seeking the Democratic nomination for President. The Texas campaign was tough and mystifying to outsiders. It’s hard for missionaries to grasp the difficulties of running a state-wide campaign here. We are expensive. Texas is separated into 20 media markets, the most of any state. Former Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who was state director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, told The New York Times, “It’s like running a national campaign. There are no similarities between Amarillo and Brownsville and Beaumont and Texarkana and El Paso and Austin and Houston and Dallas. These are very separate demographic groups with very diverse interests.” The primary election led to the Texas Two-Step with voting, caucuses, and late-night confusion. At least we didn’t hang anyone from Chad.
OK, our path is clear. If we can’t move to a contested state, we have to make Texas a Battleground State for both the primaries and the general election. This will bring big bucks here and we can be first in line. For example, we’ve got to keep Bernie Sanders in the race. Yes, he looks like the poster child for AARP. He wants to take our money and give it to illegal aliens. Sanders has this quirky idea of making all public colleges and universities free. (He’s obviously never met the players in a Big 12 football game.) Hillary will be forced to spend some of her campaign funds here just to keep from being humiliated. The Dems also had Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffe, but they’re gone.
Over on the GOP side, keep those two-dozen nobodies thinking they have a chance in Texas, so they’ll spend some bucks here. We create Poll Texas and send out press releases showing Lindsey Graham and Bobby Jindal are tied for first, with Mike Huckabee right behind. We send Rick Santorum photos of a mob holding up “Santorum Is Not a Loser” signs. Chris Christi gets drowned in emails from the God Loves Fat People Club of Austin (members 2 million) begging him to campaign in Texas. Dr. Ben Carson gets a petition – we’ll furnish the signatures — from the staff at M.D. Anderson: “Come teach us how to cure cancer.” Here’s another angle: Rick Perry is no longer in the race, and any contributions you made to his presidential campaign are going to two high-priced lawyers in Houston. Sue to get some of it back. Finally, don’t print any bumper stickers for Trump in Spanish. OK, there you have it. Just remember, I get a 10 percent finder’s fee.
Ashby is running at firstname.lastname@example.org