The price of democracy

With the amount of money spent on the past midterm elections at an estimated $4 billion, a new record has certainly been reached.

This begs the question—was it worth it?

I don’t think so.

The smoke has settled and the results are in for most of the races in the country.

With a dominating performance by Republicans, it appears as though they will have control of the House of Representatives for at least the next two years.

But what about all that money? In the most expensive election cycle in history, people are beginning to wonder whether or not all that spending on advertising and refueling the RV was worth it.

For years, people have speculated that the candidate with the most funding on hand will easily win the election and head to Washington. But, this past election cycle proves otherwise.

In the California’s gubernatorial race, Meg Whitman spent roughly $163 million in an attempt to win the Governor’s seat. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 16, she managed to spend $23 million. The former eBay CEO and self-made billionaire pledged to spend up to $150 million of her personal funds at the beginning of the campaign.

In the Connecticut Senate race to fill Chris Dodd’s seat, World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon pledged to self-finance her campaign up to $50 million when she announced that she was running in September 2009.

Together, Whitman and McMahon spent a combined total of roughly $200 million. Both Whitman and McMahon lost by a sizeable amount.

In Arkansas, U.S. Senate incumbent Blanche Lincoln spent $11 million and was defeated by Rep. John Boozman, who only spent around $2 million.

While on the campaign trail, Boozman was known as a soft-spoken individual with basic conservative principles. The thing that set Boozman apart from Lincoln was the fact that he stayed focused on the issues and told the voters what they wanted to hear. Lincoln focused on attacking her opponent instead of addressing important issues.

In Idaho, Raul Labrador defeated Rep. Walt Minnick. According to the FEC, Labrador only spent $438,272, compared to Minnick’s $2,039,440.

These are just a handful of examples of races from all over the country. This past election certainly proves one thing— you cannot buy a seat in Congress.

While candidates can spend thousands of dollars to create an ad that says their opponent lied about their military service or were accused of shady business deals, at the end of the day, people will vote for the candidate they believe in. Both Republicans and Democrats need to stay focused on the issues at hand during political campaigns instead of focusing on their opponent’s character or shortcomings.

Instead of buying millions of dollars worth of advertising time to question their opponents character, they need to say what sets them apart.

If they stay focused on the issues, they are likely to win the support of a strong voter base.

They are also likely to save $160 million of their personal fortune.

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