I made a point in passing in an earlier blog that Obama’s “hustle” in the first debate may have been a ploy to help his party raise more money. I was being facetious (as I often am). But I am now beginning to wonder. Immediately after the debates cyberspace was inundated with requests for money and the appeal was clearly an appeal to fear: Karl Rove is raising millions of dollars in swing states, WHAT IF!!?? The following paragraph from a Yahoo News story sheds some light on the subject:
President Barack Obama and the Democrats raised $181 million in September — their largest monthly haul since he launched his reelection bid, his campaign announced Saturday.
I really don’t want to accept the fact that Barack Obama would stoop to this level. So I will assume for the time being that it is merely a coincidence that Obama’s loss in the first debate would send a shock through the Democratic world that could be turned into big bucks for the home team. But it does seem to be the case that the Democratic party is considerably richer today than it was the day before the debate.
There are two major difficulties here, it seems to me. To begin with are the obscene amounts of money that have been raised already on behalf of the politicians running for political office in November, as summarized in a recent New York Times article. This cartoon sent to me by saltypoliticalmusings says it all:
But the appeal to fear is a problem of a different order. If the amount of money going to reelect politicians is obscene, the increasingly common appeal to fear borders on the immoral. It is a given, sad to say, that the voting public is unwilling to spend much time and attention on the question of who it is they will vote for next month — if they vote at all. So appeals to the emotions are commonplace. They grab unwary TV viewers since they are very effective, if logically fallacious. And we have known for some time that Newt Gingrich is a master of that sort of appeal. We have come to expect such appeals from politicians.
Following 9/11 the appeal to fear was palpable and it resulted in huge increases in defense spending, the initiation of “Homeland Security,” and the rise in prestige of the CIA and greater license for its clandestine activities. A certain amount of this hysteria is to be expected and the results are not all bad. But the carry-over into political marketing is alarming. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be led to do something because of a fear that if I don’t do it something dreadful will assuredly happen. That amounts to extortion and that is not morally acceptable.
Clearly, the “game” of politics is writing its own rules as it goes along. As voters without bottomless pockets we seem to be along just for the ride. We really don’t have much to say any more about who runs this country and how it is to be done. But we don’t have to like the way the game is played. And we can refuse to play as we raise our shrill voices in protest.