Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

November 6, 2012

Editorial: Voters can send message on funding

If you thought you'd never seen an election season like this one in Michigan, you were right.

Deep-pocketed interests from Michigan and across the country have raised and spent an astounding $175 million on six statewide ballot proposals, a half dozen Supreme Court candidates and control of the Michigan House. And millions more in spending remains unaccounted for.

This has been free speech at maximum volume and in its crudest form. In a number of contests, most notably two ballot proposals bought and paid for by a trucking company billionaire, the medium overwhelmed the message.

Spending on the six ballot proposals alone was $149.5 million, compared to the $107 million spent in 2010 on all state races, including the campaigns for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, the Legislature and courts combined.

It's legal (even the tens of millions donated anonymously to back Supreme Court candidates) and it may be democracy in action, but spending this year seemed beyond reckoning. That's the way it has always been, spending more than the other guy, but to a point. The unbridled outlays this year have drowned out any real debate.

People everywhere are talking about the non-stop robo-call assault, mailboxes full of mailers and more.

Screaming your message 24 hours a day just because you can may not be the best strategy. Maybe voters will send their own message in return.

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