Democrats and John McCain like to crow about all the money in politics, and its corrupting influence. But is it really so much money? George Will's research staff puts it in perspective for us ("The Democratic Vision of Big Brother," Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2010).
Total spending, by all parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups, concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators, may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Procter & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its most recent fiscal year.
Those who are determined to reduce the quantity of political speech to what they consider the proper amount are the sort of people who know exactly how much water should come through our shower heads (no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, as stipulated by a 1992 law). Is it, however, really worrisome that Americans spend on political advocacy -- on determining who should make and administer the laws -- much less than they spend on potato chips ($7.1 billion a year)?
But with government driving its tentacles every more deeply into the economy and the business of business, who can blame corporations and the Chamber of Commerce investing in the outcome of national elections? If you want to get money out of politics, get politics out of money!