Things can get lively at AL DÍA editorial meetings. It’s one of the costs (or delights) of gathering a bunch of intelligent, opinionated and newswonk-ish sort of people in one room at one time to discuss what goes on the page and on the web. But, one of AL DÍA’s foundational precepts is that everything — even the deepest, strongest-held disagreement — needs to be expressed with civility.
It’s a shame that political campaigns don’t adhere to any such requirement. Particularly when we’ll be watching ads for the the upcoming presidential elections from now until the the polls close on Nov. 6.
Already the ads produced, or even proposed, by the political action committees associated with each party have stirred controversy. Reportedly an ad reigniting the controversy about Obama’s ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright was considered by one of the so-called super PACs and ultimately dismissed — but not before it had made it into the news.
Another conservative super PAC ad sought to cash in on the recent hubbub about Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen saying Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life because she was a full-time mom.
Not that the liberal super PACs are any better. An ad attacking Romney’s record at Bain Capital was included in those Newark mayor Cory Booker called out — regardless of party alignment — as “nauseating” during a “Meet the Press” broadcast recently. A tempest-in-a-teapot followed, wherein Republicans gloated, Democrats denounced, and Booker restated.
Mud-slinging between candidates is hardly new to an American political campaign What is new is the Supreme Court ruling in early 2010 that said the government could not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. The 5-4 ruling by the justices was predicted to have significant political and practical repercussions, opening the door to unlimited spending.
And so it is. Reportedly, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts has invested $10 million in the GOP-aligned super PACs which proposed the Rev. Wright attack ads, described by many as an intentionally “race-baiting” ad campaign. Who knows, by the end of the electoral cycle, what obscene amount of dollars will have been spent trying to get Romney elected or Obama reelected?
We wager it’ll have been more than enough to seed a federal jobs program. Or make an investment in those entrepreneurs still struggling to build businesses in this economy. It will have been enough to provide thousands of scholarships for young Americans who might not otherwise be able to afford college. It will have been enough to keep libraries and museums open to ensure that learning opportunities and cultural patrimony aren’t whittled into nothingness by budget cuts.
Ultimately, the money spent will have been more than enough to fund something we could be proud of. Instead, it’ll fund the kind of incivility we work hard, every day, to prevent.