Post-election concerns

By | November 7, 2012

There are a variety of indicators that show the system we use to choose our country’s leaders suffers serious flaws. For instance, the total advertising revenue for all television stations broadcasting political ads this year is expected to reach $2.6 billion, $1 billion more than in 2008.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cited a report by SNL Kagan, a financial firm that monitors media finances, stating that the 68 percent increase in TV political ad revenue likely reflects a spike in ads financed by political action committees. As we have witnessed, a majority of these ads aim to attack a political opponent rather than present a candidate’s stance on issues.

Last July, the Knights of Columbus launched a campaign to bring back civility in government and particularly in the elections.

The Knights, along with the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, released a survey which found that 78 percent of Americans are frustrated with the tone of political campaigns in the country, that 74 percent think the tone of political campaigns has grown more negative over past years, and that 66 percent believe candidates are spending more time attacking opponents than talking about the issues.

The Campaign for Civility in America asked Americans to sign a petition urging a more civil tone in this year’s presidential elections. (Learn more about this campaign at www.civilityin america.org.)

We also know that the cost of running for political office is astronomical, leading candidates to seek support from special interest groups. Successful candidates are then beholden to outside groups for political favors, which don’t always serve the common good.

Campaign finance reform should be one issue elected leaders take up before the next presidential election. When a New York assemblyman receives a $2,000 campaign donation this year from the Committee to Re-elect Sen. Ron Stafford, who died in 2005, it’s a sign that something needs fixing.

With so much at stake in this country, which is still recovering from a recession and a war on terrorism, the 2012 election winners need to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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