Suppose they gave an election and nobody came? That’s what Texas is undergoing. Wonder who’s paying for it? We got ourselves into this mess — or got out of it, depending upon your point of view – because after the last census count our Republican lawmakers in the Texas Legislature gerrymandered the various Congressional districts – we gained four seats — so grotesquely as to make even Tom DeLay jealous.

The Dems objected, the federal court in San Antonio overruled the re-districting then the U.S. Supreme Court overruled that lower court. So our primaries were moved from March, when they might have meant something, to late May when they were meaningless. Or, as one newspaper editorial put it, Texas voters were moved “from consequential to utterly marginal.” There weere some contested elections — Dewhurst versus Cruz — but most of our elections were a gimme for the GOP. However, there is good news, which I shall get to in a moment.

First, is anybody else already tired of the 2012 presidential campaigns? And Rahm Emanuel hasn’t even thrown out the first epithet to start them. It seems we have been bombarded with debates, attacks and speeches since 1776. By all accounts, we will witness, or survive, the most intense and expensive political campaigns ever run anytime anywhere. Mitt Romney is trying to raise $800 million, which he could probably find under his sofa cushions, plus another $200 million from other sources. President Obama is allegedly trying to raise a cool one billion dollars. He raised $750 million last time he ran and he wasn’t even the incumbent.

We may never know exactly how much will be spent because for the first time we have faceless Super PACs such as Restore Our Future, Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads – which mean what? As of April 12, 421 PACs reported collecting almost $160 million, with much more to come. As the campaigns heat up we can expect to see ads from Patriots for a More Patriotic Nation, Good People Doing Gooder and Citizens Who Love Their Country. The Koch Brothers are being wooed, if they haven’t already written more million-dollar checks. Plus we have the Republican and Democratic National Committees fund-raisings.

As a sidelight, raising all that money makes it pretty clear that neither candidate will accept public funds for the general election or the spending limits that come with them. Obama opted out of the public financing program in 2008, breaking a campaign pledge, and went on to outspend John McCain by four to one.

It is now summer, so we will have another five-plus months of this non-stop campaigning. Agggg!! I can’t stand it. Let’s all move to New Zealand until after the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Until then, we might consider what is NOT going to happen: George W. Bush is not going to campaign. He is MIA. We can only wonder what TV time spot the GOPers will give W. for his speech at their national convention. Probably 3 to 3:30. That’s a.m., right after Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Phoenix and just before the salute to the victims of the Johnstown Flood (for which, suspiciously, Obama has never denied responsibility).

What will be the roles for Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Perry? Maybe one of them will be chosen for veep and will become a household name like Daniel D. Tomkins, Richard Mentor Johnson and, of course, Schuyler Colfax — and they won.    

If you thought the GOP primaries were down and dirty, wait till the general election. Already smutty bumper stickers are being printed by both sides, ugly and untrue rumors are being hatched for e-mails and tweets. Remember the old proverb: “A lie will go ‘round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” Be prepared to read and hear some of the most outlandish untruths which can now be spread with lightning speed. Polls show we don’t like negative political campaigning. Polls also show the mud-slinging works every time. Thus polls show we’re a bunch of bloody hypocrites.

If you ever gave any candidate a dime, you go on the donor’s list and will be hounded even until the fifth and six generations. Here’s an idea: start keeping all the solicitations you are receiving in the mail seeking your “support” (money) for some candidate or party. After the election, bundle up all those letters, pamphlets, etc. and mail them to the winner, collect.

However, most of the campaign funds don’t go to mailings; they go to TV ads, which greatly help the media giants who own the stations. A few years ago Belo, which owns the Dallas Morning News and several Texas TV stations, reported an increase in one quarter’s earnings due almost exclusively to TV campaign ads. CBS’s CEO Leslie Moonves received $69.9 million last year. What you bet it’s twice that for 2012?

OK, now for the good news I promised earlier. Texas doesn’t have a dog in this fight. We are the reddest of red states, and everyone in both parties knows Texas will go for the Republican presidential candidate if he were Aaron Burr. We have a winner-take-all policy for our votes in the Electoral College, so not a single ballot will be for Obama even if he gets 49.999 percent of the popular vote. Neither candidate will waste a dime or a minute campaigning here. For Texans, this upcoming presidential election is a spectator sport.

That doesn’t mean we won’t see the candidates a lot. Texas is the cash cow in the slaughter house, but at least we shall be saved from the bombast in the battleground states. Of course, this also means we won’t have any of our campaign contributions coming back here. It’s a one-way street. Anyway, stand by for mud on the walls and blood on the floor, but give till it hurts Do they have elections in New Zealand?


                        Ashby campaigns at     


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