A Billion Dollar Campaign

The thing that has struck me about this year's campaigns is how little campaigning the candidates do any more.

It's all about television now. The experts tell candidates, correctly, that it is no longer cost-effective to do much personal campaigning.

You can reach so many more people on television, the experts say, that a politician's time is better spent raising money to make television commercials.

So, that's what the politicians do.

The Federal Election Commission reports that the candidates for the House and Senate races and other groups have raised almost $1 billion this year, and nearly all of it has been to pay for campaign commercials because the politicians have learned the commercials can get them elected.

But what are the rest of us getting for this approach to politics? For all the money spent, can you recall one commercial this year that really helped you understand a complicated issue, or that you found even mildly edifying?

Did you hear anything that caused you to want to get involved in a campaign, or caused you to say to yourself, "I hope my child grows up to be a politician some day?"

When I think of the mess our modern campaigns have become, and how everyone involved, the politicians, the media and all the rest, seem helpless to change it, it reminds me of how an old west Texas congressman named Walter Rogers used to describe his golf game.

"I know I can play better than this," he used to say, "But I never do."