Page 1


Bumperstrips Brochures Campaign Cards Posters Flyers Specialties FUTURA PRESS iNC Hickory 2-8682 M.P. Hickory 2-2426 1714 SOUTH CONGRESS AVENUE P.O. BOX 3485 AUSTIN, TEXAS The late Walter Prescott Webb once said he had confidence in the people, once they see the fundamental issue. So must all of us, believing as we do in democracy. And the fundamental issue in our domestic politics now is the integrity of our elections against those who would buy majorities as though they were consignments of steel or shipments of cars. The doctrine, “one man, one vote,” means each of us has an equal ownership in the democracy. If we intend to keep our share, we must look, not to the forms of government, but to the realities of politics. THE FIRST THING Dr. Clifton McCleskey says in the section on money in politics, in his good book on The Government and Politics of Texas, 2 is that this is “largely uncharted territory,” and that’s the truth. A candidate who was full of stories about his visits to various offices for campaign funds said to me the other day that money is “the guts of the system” now. Yet the people are mostly in the dark about it. There are plenty of gross figures about how much politics costs. These figures are 14 The Texas Observer rather unreal; they don’t mean much to the average man, because he’s never seen that much money and never will. Still, this is the starting point. In 1962 Texas Democratic candidates spent $1.4 million for radio and TV time, and Texas Republicans spent $.4 million. 3 Two years later this total $1.8 million had increased to $2.5 million. Nationally, the FCC reported for 1964, television stations took in $19.7 million for political broadcasts; radio took in $10.7 millionroughly $30 million. 4 McCleskey reports reliable hearsay that it costs a million dollars for a candidate to run in some hard-fought statewide races in Texas, and a routinely tough fight costs $500,000. Saul Friedman quoted George Bush, contemplating his 1964 campaign, as talking about the need to spend nearly $2 million “if you want to do it right.” 5 A prospective candidate for governor was quoted recently saying he couldn’t run without $750,000. 6 In local elections, costs have taken their own local skyrockets. Filing fees for candidates in primaries are higher than the fees for statewide offices in many cases. In 1964 in San Antonio, for instance, it cost $2,250 to file for congressman, $3,300 for tax assessor-collector, $2,000 for downtown constable. This year a candidate for DA there must put up $4,000; for county judge, $5,000. 7. In Houston, the mayor reported contributions and spending in excess of $100,000 in his re-election campaign. 8 Nationally, the situation has become almost incomprehensibly expensive. About all one can do is use exclamation points. Congressional Quarterly says total reported expenditures in national-level campaigns went from $23 million in 1952 to $47.7 million in 1964, just a dozen years latera doubling in a dozen years. Reflect on the meaning of this geometrical progression in campaign costs; it is changing the very nature of democracy while the people and the officeholders stand amazed and mostly mute. CQ says the actual, as distinct from the reported campaign expenditures have gone from $140 million in 1952 to $200 million in 1964. 9 Political records are being computerized, and everybody is taking to television. The magazines say it was a $200 million dollar campaign, and everything continues. But what of democracy? Out of hand one can see that the costs of running are profoundly discouraging to prospective candidates whose views are not likely to excite the enthusiasm of wealthier citizens. The high cost of campaigns is being cited more and more as an argument, and a persuasive one, against having so many electionsfor electing people for four-year terms instead of two-year terms. There seems to me to be a flaw in this argument: for if there are fewer elections, there will simply be more money available for each election that does occur; the result would be yet less democracy. Listeners to statewide TV in Texas recently learned that one 30-minute statewide TV broacast costs $10,000; with total coverage and promotion this can run to $40,000. Richard Nixon recently wrote that ten one-minute spots on a Dallas TV station cost $3,500 \(and in New York City, $11, In Texas, according to one source, mailing one first class letter to every family in Texas now costs about $300,000. One big billboard costs $200 to $550 a month. To take the 20-second TV jingle-spots in time that adds up to half an hour in prime time would cost about $400,000. Walter Pincus, whose series of stories on money in politics, in the Washington Evening Star, have been a valuable contribution to the slowly gathering literature on the subject, has discovered that a group of the AMERICAN INCOME LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF INDIANA Underwriters of the American Income Labor Disability Policy Executive Offices: P.O. Box 208 Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, President