by 99 Seats
This is pretty scary, weird stuff in and of itself. But that's just part of it.
In the ever-evolving world of campaign fundraising, some politicians have stumbled on yet another way to bring in buckets of cash. Let’s call it the “money blurt.”
Here’s how it works: An up-and-coming politician blurts out something incendiary, provocative or otherwise controversial. The remark bounces around the blogs and talk shows and becomes a sensation.
And in the midst of it all, the politician’s fundraisers are manning the phones and raking in the donations.
Consider Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the tea party favorite and newly minted presidential candidate, who has made a specialty of raising money in the wake of bold and well-placed remarks. Shortly after accusing President Obama of having “anti-American views” during one cable-news appearance, for example, Bachmann took in nearly $1 million.
Yep, you read that right. A politician or someone running for office blurts out the most inflammatory, insane, upsetting thing they can and then rides the infamy to the bank. And this is a strategy. Not just a happy coincidence. It's the plan. Go out and say whacked-out things and clean up. Reasonable public discourse doesn't free up the dollars, so go with crazy. People like to pay for crazy. This is bad.
What makes it worse is this article which does a number of things that these kind of articles do that doesn't help. First, they indentify 4 Republicans, all of whom are either currently in office, who have successfully used this strategy and one GOP campaign analyst in support of it. But, for "balance," they throw in one Democrat who lost his race. Any reasonable person would look at this and say, "Huh. Saying crazy things seems to be effective for Republicans. I wonder what that says about the audience they're speaking to?" But, no, no, no! This is the WaPo. There has to be "balance," so we don't start thinking that the GOP is pandering to the craziest part of its base in a crass ploy to raise money. We can't ever think about that.
You know what else we can't think about? The effect this has on politics and policy. The central figure in this article, Rep. Michele Bachmann, is now running for president. She's going to need a lot more money (even though she'll still lose) and she'll have a bigger megaphone. If her go-to method of raising money is saying batshit crazy things that make the loony fringe of her party happy and excited...how far does she have to go to keep getting bang for her buck? And how beholden will she be to the people who actually put her in office? It's not like she can turn around and say, "Hey, folks, 'member all the wacky shit I said? I was just joshing. Bygones, y'all, right?"
Political speech has consequences. So do elections. If we're not going to acknowledge that, we're just moving ourselves closer to a collapse. I really wish our political reporting would think about the big picture and not just whatever crap a GOP consultant told them over drinks.