CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
by Jennifer Hampster, 1/14/00
Dc: The candidates vying for the presidential nomination
for the Enough! Party have agreed to try an amazing new political technique
called Extreme Disclosure.
Like the popular so-called "extreme sports," Extreme Disclosure
is high risk and potentially very rewarding for the candidate, but at
what cost to our political discourse?
Jennifer Hampster reports.
Jennifer: Governor Dick Burstyn was at a loss for words when his opponent
in the Enough! Party primaries suggested Extreme Disclosure, but after
he took a day to think about it, the idea grew on him.
Burstyn: It takes a lot of energy to be out there on the campaign trail
day after day, denying that the soft money makes a difference. Nobody
believes you. You don't even believe you. It wears you down.
Jennifer: Burstyn says he decided to try something radical to, as he
put it, "break the cycle of denial and backpedaling."
Senator Sam Spleen credits his opponent with having the courage to "think
outside the box."
Spleen: When I said "let's try Extreme Disclosure," he could
have laughed it off and left me high and dry. But I think he realized
... just as I have realized, that honesty IS the best policy. And Extreme
honesty has got to be even better.
Jennifer: Within days, both candidates had started wearing patches on
their suits that bear the names and logos of the many corporations that
have poured soft money into accounts that benefit them.
Burstyn: I wear the Sprawling Medical patch up here, nearest my head,
because they've given lavishly to my soft money account, and the turquoise
in their logo is a good color for me.
It matches my eyes. And it also exactly matches the turquoise in the
logo for another of my major donors, the Boating and Beverage Association.
So ... (chuckling) you won't see me in a brown suit anytime soon.
(sfx: large crowd hubub)
Jennifer: The reaction of voters has been quite interesting, and different
for each candidate. At a recent public appearance in Des Moines, many
people were intrigued ... and pleased by Spleen's array of patches.
Young woman: I want you to know we eat Lunar Burgers at least once a
week and we just LOVE them.
Spleen: Well good for you. "Round as the moon"
Both: "The cheese is free."
Young woman: My kids say that at home all the time. And since you started
wearing the Larry Lunar patch on your suit ... my fifth grader especially
is more interested in politics.
Spleen: Excellent. Wonderful. Here's a coupon to use at your next Lunar
Young woman: Thank you SO MUCH!
Spleen: Hope I can count on your vote. Good to see you.
Hi! How are you?
Old Guy: How do you stay healthy shaking so many hands in flu season?
Spleen: See this patch on my suit? That's Healthy Hooligan, mascot for
the Handsoap Manufacturer's Association. They're one of my biggest funders.
Clean Hands for Health!
Old Guy: I like a politician with clean hands.
Spleen: I've got a free sample of squirt-on hand soap for you ... and
my campaign materials.
Old Guy: That soap got a fragrance?
Spleen: It's Mountain Spring.
Old Guy: Got any Lilac Fields?
(sfx: crowd sounds out)
Jennifer: But for Governor Burstyn, the reaction has been quite different.
(sfx: different crowd up)
Burstyn: Hello. Good to see you. I'd love to have your vote.
Irate Guy: I want my money back. My car is a lemon.
Burstyn: I'm sorry ...
Irate Guy: My Intimida. A piece of junk.
Burstyn: I'm not sure I understand ...
Irate Guy: You've got the company's name on your suit.
Burstyn: Oh. OH! Well, my good man, they simply fund my campaign. If
it's automotive service you need, contact your local dealer!
Irate Guy: My local dealer's in jail. Tax evasion.
Burstyn: Oh. (clearing throat) Well I hope you'll vote for me anyway.
I'd certainly take a good look at legislation to .. uh ..
Irate Guy: Only one thing could get you my vote now.
Burstyn: What's that?
Irate Guy: It's out in the parking lot.
Burstyn: (raising voice) Would anyone like to talk about social security?
(sfx: crowd out)
Jennifer: I asked political marketing expert Marnie Kincaid to explain
why the two candidates are having such different experiences with Extreme
Marnie Kincaid: (phone) You're dealing with a nation of consumers. They're
not foreign policy experts. They're not budget number crunchers. They
go to their jobs, they make their money, and they make personal buying
decisions. For a lot of them, shopping is their only recreation. So
if you have the opportunity to judge a candidate based on his policies,
which you don't understand, or his brands, which you know all too well
... which would you do?
Jennifer: It's a tendency that has paid dividends for Senator Sam Spleen,
whose jacket sports the logos of a series of much loved companies, and
causes continuing trouble for former Governor Dick Burstyn, who is allied
with a series of polluters, monolithic advantage takers, and manufacturers
of shoddy products.
(sfx: car hood open)
Burstyn: Well ... there's a sticky green goo all over the engine. That's
not a good sign.
Irate Guy: Dealer said it was rustproofing.
Burstyn: Put the light over here. See this wire? It doesn't seem to
go anywhere. We should look around and see if there's a connector someplace.
Irate Guy: That wire's always been hanging like that. Dealer told me
it was an air spark ... gave the engine charged air to breathe.
Burstyn: You fell for that? And still I can't get your vote?
Irate Guy: If you can get it runnin', you can have my vote.
Burstyn: All right ... got any pliers?
Jennifer: Latest polling figures show Governor Burstyn will have to
fix thousands of cars in the next few weeks if he has any hope of showing
well against Senator Sam Spleen in the Enough! Party primaries. I'm
Dale Connelly Reporting Home