When talk isn't cheap, why not put the money to good use?

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The craziest thing happened when I went up to Minnesota to visit my mom last week.

She turned on the TV to watch the evening news and there were all these ... advertisements.

No, not like you’re thinking. They were ads for things: Razors, cars, cleaning supplies — you name it. Ads selling stuff I could buy, not asking me to buy a line about Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. Never in my life would I have imagined feeling such relief at the sight of a dishwashing detergent.

Oh, sure, there were some ads for state races — here was Amy Klobuchar listing all the great things she’s brought to her constituents, there was House candidate Jim Graves making his case against his (in)famous opponent, incumbent Michele Bachman. But the words “47 percent” didn’t pass a single voice-over announcer’s lips. Not one. I know. It’s hard to imagine such a world. But I’m telling you, it exists.

Our northern neighbor is as blue as the deep-blue sea. We’re a swing state, of course, and thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of or opposing a particular candidate, the only real limit on the political advertisements we’re being subjected to is the fixed number of hours in a day.

It’s a steady diet of negativity — of the nearly $789 million in independent campaign expenditures

so far nationwide, only

$142.8 million has been spent in support of candidates. The other $644.6 million has been spent criticizing the other guy, according to the non-profit Washington D.C.-based watchdog The Sunlight Foundation. And you wonder why you’re so sick of politicians.

The problem with the blitzkrieg isn’t only that it all starts to kind of bleed together (I forget, which one was it who hates puppies and show tunes?). To my Midwestern sensibilities, it’s just such an offensive waste.

“Why don’t they just take that money and use it fix some of these problems they’re going on and on about?” asked my mother, who, sheltered as she is from the brunt of this bombardment by her state’s electoral certainty, is even sick of the whole thing.

Now there’s an idea — skip the manufactured free-lunch photo op and donate some of those millions of dollars to free-lunch programs in honor of your favored candidates. Do some good, for a change, and give us poor voters a break.

Comments: (319) 339-3154; jennifer.hemmingsen@sourcemedia.net

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