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Bears … Bears … Ditka … money … bears …

Katie Palmitier | Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Bowl XLI is this weekend. My apologies to all you Superfans out there, but I do not have much invested in this year’s Super Bowl contenders. I do, however, have much more interest in the good food and entertaining commercials that are synonymous with Super Bowl Sunday. Those commercials, as we all know, come with a hefty price tag. This year, advertisers must be willing to shell out over 2 million dollars for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLI. Companies such as Pepsi and Budweiser willingly hand over the cash knowing that their advertisements will bring in more money and prosperity to the company.

That price tag, however, pales in comparison to the cost of a political campaign. To even be considered a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, presidential hopefuls must be willing to fundraise at least 100 million dollars. As a result, candidates (and their loving lobbyists) are wasting little time. It is not even February of 2007 and contenders such as Obama and Clinton are already campaigning in Iowa in an effort to raise money for a much-heated race. The more candidates collect money from lobbyists and big corporations, the more loyalties and favors candidates must be willing to pay once elected.

While I anxiously await my favorite pre-game meal consisting of homemade Italian sausage sandwiches, a side of queso and Tostitos chips accompanied by a few chuckles at a Budweiser commercial, I decided I should be more concerned about the condition of our country than the smorgasbord of delectables featured on Super Bowl Sunday. And although its okay that we succumb to companies’ advertising and their 2 million dollar ads do not go to waste on Sunday when I pick up a twelve pack of Pepsi at Martin’s, it is not okay that candidates are falling for big companies and lobbyists traps. Once elected, congressmen and women are spending a majority of their time in office paying back favors and passing legislature that benefits those that supported their campaign. The American people, therefore, are left out in the dust. While we may be concerned about those Bears’ fans and their unhealthy obsession with football and Polish sausage, we should take time to consider the unhealthy obsession political candidates have with money and its effect on the well being of America.

Every day politicians are out collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and big industries, even when the next election is two years away. With every passing day, candidates are accumulating funds as laws and legislature that affect the well being of Americans fail to pass or even be discussed. Former Senator Alan Simpson (D-Wyoming) admitted to the failure of elected officials, stating in a recent Boston Globe article, “When we were spending so much time raising money, we simply could not devote quality time to thoughtful decisions and debate. It lowered the substance of our work.”

Our health care system is in dire need of attention; thousands of Americans are living without health insurance and are unable to afford proper medical care. Education in America is failing; college tuition is rising and the opportunity for grants and loans is not easy to come by. The environment of not only America but also the whole world is in danger; global warming has proven to be a threat to our nation after ominous signs such as Hurricane Katrina, melting icecaps and rising global temperatures. The Colts, however, cannot blame global warming for their demise by Hurricane Ditka on Sunday. Most prevalent of all, the conflict in Iraq has yet to be solved; over three years and three thousand casualties have passed and a clear plan has yet to be established for the United States’ victory in Iraq.

Instead of dealing with these issues, politicians spend their time schmoozing at cocktail parties and dining at Le Bec Fin. And when it does come time to debate and decide on legislature, the individuals or corporations that were most philanthropic towards a political campaign will be the root cause for the way each decision is made, hence why Big Tobacco, Big Oil and the NRA are still in existence. Campaign finance reform needs to be established so that the American people become the reason as to why decisions are made rather than Big Business hegemons.

While money will always be involved in politics and is needed to run a successful campaign, I believe in the theory that less is more. The less time spent raising money, the more constituents will benefit. While we all anxiously await the match up of two hometown teams and the release of millions of dollars worth of 30-second commercials this Sunday, candidates will be busy at work raising money for their own 30-second commercials for election that is two years away. And as each candidate climbs his or her way up to the 100 million dollar mark, the interests and needs of the American people will slowly be blurred out of the vision of politicians. The sooner campaign finance reform is finally taken seriously, the sooner the American people will be better represented and our nation, let alone the world, will be a healthier, more secure place to live.

Go Bears.

Katie Palmitier is a sophomore

political science major. She can be

contacted at kpalmiti@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.