The March of Progress

dollar_shadow Some interesting, if unsurprising, facts on the latest advance in the marketing process known as “politics,” from a recent Advertising Age report:

The most marked changes in what viewers will see this fall compared with prior falls is not only in how many ads will confront them, but who is behind them. The explosion of Republican groups — super PACs, 501(c)(4) organizations, trade associations with political arms — is without question the biggest development in all 2012 advertising.

At the presidential level alone, between April 10 (when Romney unofficially claimed the party’s nomination) and early September, these groups accounted for 55% of all presidential ads aired on the Republican side. The remaining 45% were aired by Romney and the Republican National Committee. During this same timeframe in 2008, only 3% of all Republican ads were sponsored by outside groups; 97% were aired by the McCain campaign or the RNC.

On the Democratic side, the difference between 2008 and 2012 is negligible: 91% of all presidential ads aired during the April-September period in 2012 were sponsored by either the Obama campaign or the Democratic National Committee; just 9% of the ads aired came from outside groups such as Priorities USA Action. In 2008, the breakdown was 96% to 4%.

This not only confirms the basic nature of how the U.S. system now works — the rich blatantly buy elections, but also provides yet another major proof of the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, which makes not a peep about this trend.

And, of course, the explosion in the degree to which all “campaign” discourse now occurs via TV advertisement continues. The same Ad Age reporter estimates that there are now 43,000 political television advertisements running every day in the United States.

8 Replies to “The March of Progress”

  1. In talking to some friends and aquaintances I have been shocked multiple times by how many people honestly believe things such as: “well, if you are a business, how are ou going to get your message out?”, “it is in the interest of business to serve the public interest, so what’s the problem?”, and even “I don’t want poor people influencing democracy” (sic.).

    So, unless the macro-lie that business and social interests coincide is not discredited, somehow, I expect to see more people sadistically enjoying the NFL style ad wars.

  2. The equation of business and social interests has been a constant theme in US history. A guy named Alex Carey used to study it, and argued this is the most heavily indoctrinated society in world history.

    In any event, that equation, the deepening of which is one of the hallmarks of the still-running Reagan Revolution, like so much else, will continue to reign until there’s a social movement or an economic implosion that can’t be managed.

  3. I’ll check the book, thanks. In terms of crises, I’m surprised the great depression wasn’t enough to shake off this lie, the taking apart of which doesn’t even require any education.
    Or maybe the PR machine really took off after WWII? In hwich case it probably makes sense against the backdrop of zero historical memory. Still, I’m shocked this idea has been so succesful, considering that even Adam Smith, the patron saint of free marketeers who-apparently-never-read-him, rants on for pages and pages and pages about how the interest of “men who live by profit” is totally different from those of society…

  4. What’s (terribly) funny about it is the pretense that the money is somehow “real,” and that it means more than that elites have decided to require differently-branded employees to produce videos about them. “Money” is, itself, marketing, feigning as it does that things are being “purchased” rather than orders being given to sustenance-followers.

    I’ll give you a 3.4 bajillion dollars to make Romney look good if you give me 26 heiroliphant tusks to make Obama look good.

  5. Money is quite real, so long as people respect it. As long as they do, it’s a matter of life and death, as we know.

    I don’t (prepare for cowboy talk) much cotton to the tradition of talking about how unreal money is, personally. The social situation that encourages people to take money seriously is quite severe. It’s not optional. If you don’t have the dollars, you don’t get the food or the medicine or the bus tickets.

    I think when people talk about the unreality of money, they are talking about money not being magic, not being special in itself, as an object. But getting stuck at that level of analysis is to remain stuck in the very fetish one is trying to break through. Money is a marker of social relationships, not a magical amulet.

    Okay, but so what? Race isn’t real either, in terms of the biology of the thing. But it’s quite real and effective as a social process, though, unlike money, it seems to be on the wane.

    Personally, I also think that any world with 7-9 billion people (or even 1 billion eventually) is going to want and need money, as a way of maintaining connections and order. Moneyless communism is centuries away. A moneyless world in the near future is almost sure to look like Mad Max movies. No thanks.

    Capitalism, not money, is our problem.

  6. If “money” can be used well, so can “capitalism.”

    Consider Money Laundering. In a better world, we might still use a medium of exchange, and we might still call it “money,” but it wouldn’t be very much like what we now call money, anymore than some manner of competitive marketplace in a just world would be very like what we now call “capitalism.”

  7. Michael is right… After brief initial accumulation where the mass of money can mostly be reduced to exchangeable goods, they become more a direct instrument of power (the power to command labor) than strictly an instrument for exchange…

    Therein lies the horror: we have (for now…) the material and human assets to turn the world into a much better place. But, the people with the money say “no-uh”. So, the money are indeed very real, since they, and the profit imperative, determine what gets done far better than any dictator could

  8. I’ve always thought the main economic issue was what anthropologists call “economic surplus,” aka the wealth accumulated above and beyond what it costs to maintain the population.

    Right now, the maldistribution and unfair generation of surplus wealth permits the overclass to enjoy dictatorial control over society.

    There is no technical reason why we couldn’t have income and wealth ceilings for everybody, and make most macro-economic choices a matter of democracy.

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