I think I’m more encouraged by this election cycle than any in the past. I have never seen the media comment and commercial advertisement influence at a lower point. The online social media and dissemination of news, facts and data have never been used more effectively. Take a glance below at the total pre-convention spending for the top three campaigners.
I remember the first televised debates back in 1960 between Kennedy and Nixon. That was the first time I actually considered the men running as real people. That was quite a step. For the first time since the early 19th century when the personality of the candidate could be seen (and judged) by the public.
There has been little since that time until this broadly available internet access that has impacted the national elections. The huge debate by the public and the near complete exposure of the person has created a cauldron in which the candidates are reduced to their true self. It is an opportunity for the voting public to know their candidate as never before.
Paid advertizements have only been money-fueled popularity contests. Just when we began to think politics was always to be purchased by the highest bidder, we find this complete reversal of the situation. Tech savvy candidates across the country are bringing voters closer and increasing their chances of becoming elected. And, after those people are elected what they do in that office is widely available. Public officials are finding more public involvement in their legislative processes.
One of the biggest surprises, to me, this year has been the insistence that elected officials understand they are not leaders, but servants of the people. Since the Civil War we have elected “leaders” to take care of business so we can take care of ours. This new millennium has exhibited a growing awareness of how far from traditional American principles our government(s) have wandered. How the governing class has become a more or less permanent population. We are growing weary of being ignored by our paid servants.
You mention the splitting of the national parties. I would suggest this is a great sign of things to come. The greater the dispute, the more the uproar of debate, the better the resulting decisions. Also there is a continuing clash between those who elect their leaders and forget the process until the next cycle and the new involved generations. I cannot view this greater amount of debate and knowing the candidates better as a negative development in the process. Voting records updated daily (if not instantly), participation in decision making, and up to date feedback to our servants brings them closer in line with our desires.
Clinton total spent………$301.4M
Sanders total spent…….$220.8M
Trump total spent…………$73.0M