Elections and Money

One thing is clear from the case of billionaire Michael Bloomberg who won the election for mayor of New York City after spending over $102 million ($175 per vote), outspending his opponent, City Comptroller William Thompson, Jr., 10 to 1—elections can be and are often bought. The media see to that. A candidate gets media time and media attention by buying the time, by spending more than anyone else. And that’s what wins the election; it’s as simple as that. And it’s scary and it’s frightening to think that our political leaders—who make decisions that affect our everyday lives--are not necessarily the best qualified, the most intelligent, the most credible, the most noble; they’re simply the richest.

So what do we tell our students about the relative importance of knowledge versus money? Clearly, if you want to be a politician in the United States money is the more important—at least that’s what got lots of others elected. But here’s the really frightening thing: we put these people in office. We did and do what the media tell us to do.

Yes, to paraphrase Pogo who said it a long time ago, we have met the enemy and it is us.

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