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Wasted Campaigns

June 22, 2017

Several special elections have been held to fill Congressional positions vacated by individuals nominated by President Trump to fill cabinet and other senior positions in his administration. Ultimately, these special elections were all won by Republican candidates – meaning that they remain in the hands of the same party as  held them to begin with. Basically, the same situation occurred when special elections were held to replace individuals who had been nominated by President Obama to help form his new administration in 2009.

The fact that the Democrats lost all of these elections was not totally unexpected, though it was disappointing to the DNC and Democrats in general, who hoped that the perceived blunders made by President Trump and members of his staff leading up to and following his inauguration would translate into election victories and to a new Democratic Party Congressional majority following the 2018 midterm elections. The districts involved were long-time Republican strongholds. This being said, some of the tactics and strategies used by the two sides and the way money was raised and spent campaigning for the seats leaves much to be desired.

The Georgia district that had been represented by Tom Price (currently serving as Secretary of Health and Human Services and devoted to the crusade to eradicate the Affordable Care Act), was won by Republican Karen Handel over Jon Ossoff by 53% to 47%. It was an unusual campaign, to say the least, given national importance by both parties and involving a record spending spree for any House race ever at over $50 million. Other races saw far less spent with more bang for the buck for the Democratic candidates in some of the races, which has drawn some fire from dissenting voices in that party. Be that as it may, it does seem that spending that kind of money in the election for one House seat is overdoing it just a tad.

A couple of thoughts regarding the Ossoff/Handel race come to mind. One is – why couldn’t the Democrats find a candidate who at least lives in the district he’s running to represent? That this is even legal boggles the mind. I had the same opinion of Rahm Emanuel when he first ran for Mayor of Chicago. Granted, on the issues, Ossoff was a far better choice to represent the people of that district. Handel declaring during a debate that she adamantly opposes the concept of a living wage was enough to prove that.

During the campaigns for other open seats, I would receive emails requesting campaign donations. A few for each Democrat. But if I had contributed in response to each email request for money for Ossoff, I would have probably exceeded my maximum individual contribution at least a month before the election – and I live in PA. The fundraising and star power brought out to endorse and campaign for Jon Ossoff made the Democrats seem almost desperate. Did the Democratic Party forget its abhorrence for big campaign spending, Citizens United, et.al.? The Republicans and various rightwing PACs spent a lot of cash as well, but that’s to be expected of them.

Spending such huge sums to fill a position for less than two years is a big waste of resources – especially if you lose. There is no way the Democrats will give whoever runs for that seat in 2018 anywhere near that much national support in terms of money and/or time for celebrity and heavy-hitter campaigning assistance. Even though the Democrats won all the special elections following the 2008 election of President Obama, they still were swept out of the House majority in the 2010 elections in the Tea Party surge. They should certainly not take these losses as another sign of doom and gloom, but rather as a sign that they need to refine their message and groom candidates to oppose the incumbent Republicans on the 2018 ballot – along with all the baggage they are giving themselves by voting to throw millions off of affordable health care while Making America Great Again for those who are already wealthy enough to buy influence in Washington, DC and state political circles.

The 2012 election helped to show that raising and spending limitless cash doesn’t always translate into winning elections. Buying airtime to broadcast semi-truthful or outright false campaign propaganda does not totally replace the need to have grassroots organizing and door-to-door campaigning. The message needs to be the right one and must be properly conveyed to gain enthusiastic enough support to result in more people actually going out and casting their ballots. Polls show that Trump and Congress are getting more unpopular, especially when it comes to what they are trying to do to us with regard to health care. They aren’t winning much favor with many of their other policy initiatives either. When it comes to campaign promises being fulfilled, the work is becoming a slow slog indeed. Foreign and domestic policies alike are not appearing to make much headway. Even Congressional recesses aren’t fulfilling the purpose they claim, as many Republicans are refusing to even meet with constituents in town hall meetings in order to better represent them in Washington. They know their constituents are getting pissed.

Congress should be doing more than just trying to dismantle as much of Obama’s legacy as it can at breakneck speed. They and the media in general need to focus less on high-visibility investigative hearings and more on fixing the stuff they have systematically broken through their actions and inactions during previous sessions. Taking us back to pre-Obama health care and economic systems didn’t work out well the first time. It won’t work any better now. That just lets the rich get richer and the rest get screwed – or worse. Expect the American Health Care Act to be the talk of the town till the next recess – unless our distraction-loving President decides to start another bombing binge or go on another Twitter tirade about witch hunts. Again, watch what is done, not what is said.

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One Comment
  1. Outstanding – must read

    Liked by 2 people

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