Monday, September 10, 2012

What an iPhone app taught me about the Presidential election.

My Brother-in-law turned me onto a new iPhone app that can listen to a presidential TV ad and give all the background information regarding the message told.  Essentially it will do an instant “fact-check on just about any national political ad.” Well, sort of…

The app tells who paid for the ad, how much they have raised, and how much they’ve spent over the election season.   There is also a “see claims made in this ad” option which links to different articles which explain the premises made in the ads.  A “Love,” “Fair,” “Fishy,” or “Foul” poll also allows users to vote on how accurate the commercial was.  

I decided to give the app a try on my wife’s iPhone and was pleasantly surprised by how well the app performed—and thanks to the fact that pretty much every other commercial is a political add on network TV during prime-time—I was able to get a pretty good sampling in only an hour.

Rather than rehashing all the ads and the truth (or rather lack thereof) of each ad, I’d rather just draw some simple conclusions.  Just about anybody would agree that there are far too many political ads on television.  Most would also agree that there is far too much money involved in running for political office.  Just today (9/10/12) the Obama campaign reported that they raised nearly $117 million in the month of August to Romney’s $112 million that same month.  August was actually the first month Obama outraised Romney, but combined, they’ve raised over $1 billion (so far!)! And that’s not even counting all the various “Super-Pacs” or other special interest groups. 

It seems pretty obvious to me, and I think it should be to most everyone else as well, that there is far too much money in politics.  By time the election is over, I imagine somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 to $2 billion will have been spent.  What a huge waste of money! There are millions out of work, millions more in poverty, roads in desperate need of repair, and dare I say a huge national debt, yet we’re spending this much money on getting someone into office.  President Obama is hardly innocent in this regard, he initially vowed he would only use public (tax payer funded) monies in his 2008 election but then changed his mind and began his own fundraising efforts.  (Side note, if both candidates had only used public campaign money this election, they would have each received $91 million for the entire campaign!)

By now we should all agree that there is far too much money in politics, yet strangely enough one political party actually wants to increase the availability of money.  Yep, more stupid attack ads, more “I approve of this message,” more of every other commercial being a political ad, and worst of all—more horribly misinformed voters. 

Here’s my recommendation:

Good: Use this or some other app to fact-check commercials.

Better: Turn off the TV when a political commercial comes on.

Best: Stop supporting politicians that want to put even more money into politics and rather demand                      they actually start using less.

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