I heard an irksome argument on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today. It went something like this: The Obama campaign’s excessive advertising is akin to nabbing an election on shallow terms. It’s cheating by running a ludicrous amount of ads in swing states. Obama’s infomercial is over the top.
That critique is weak, especially coming from people who I assume identify themselves as capitalists. Has anyone ever accused GM of competitive cheating by running commercials during the Super Bowl? Is McDonald’s cheating because it has the budget to run more commercials than In-N-Out?
No. And the Obama campaign is not cheating by buying blocks of air time. Nor would the McCain campaign be cheating if it did the same thing. Politics in this country has, in recent history, always acted like a hybrid between a big business and a three ring circus.
People complaining about the ads are elevating politicians to unwieldy idealistic heights. Obama successfully plays off idealism more than McCain, but he’s still…*gulp*…a politician. Votes are his currency. He’s putting down money to gain votes. That exchange is what the ads boil down to.
Running ads isn’t betraying the system. It’s simply playing the game.