Every two to four years, politicians aspire to demonstrate their competency for political office. Political campaigns and organizations concentrate millions of dollars to undercut and outlast the opposition. They drag names through the mud, as if it were the next step on the political “corporate ladder.” The American people, caught in the middle, are torn between the need for elected officials and the heartbreak of countless shattered oaths. Consequently, they dissociate themselves from misused words like Democrat, Republican, and change. They have learned to bite their tongue, drink their beer and leave well enough alone. That’s exactly what the politicians want.
In 1933, the political landscape attained a new twist: “No single development [had] altered the workings of American democracy in the last century so much as political consulting, an industry unknown before Campaigns, Inc. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, political consultants replaced party bosses as the wielders of political power gained not by votes but by money” (Lepore 53). As of 1931, California was primarily a Republican state, but in the summer of 1934, Upton Sinclair attained the Democratic gubernatorial nomination “with more votes than any primary candidate in California had ever won before” (Lepore 51). The founders of Campaigns, Inc, Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter, were staunch Republicans. So, they sought any possible way to prevent Sinclair from winning. Thus, the rules of political campaigning were born.
Instead of pursuing an issue-driven campaign, Whitaker and Baxter, eagerly pursued entertainment and controversy, or what we know today as partisanship. Here are just some of their rules: “Pretend that you are the Voice of the People, . . . Never explain anything, . . . Simplify, simplify, simplify” (Lepore 55). While the rules are enough to make anyone cringe, the way they helped win the gubernatorial election was even worse. Sinclair was the author of over forty fictional books. In those books were quotes, from fictional characters, that Campaigns, Inc. used as Sinclair’s own words in the L.A. Times. Campaigns, Inc. didn’t just omit a couple words to suit their needs. They forged a man’s beliefs (Lepore). This tradition of dishonesty carries through to today. Now, hiring a political consultant is a requirement and a warning: we will do whatever it takes to win (Cain 377). Ironically, Leone Baxter once voiced that political consulting “must be in the hands of the most ethical, principle[d] people . . . or else it will erode into the hands of people who have no regard for the world around them. It could be a very, very destructive thing” (Lepore 59).
In America’s political history, there has never existed a person, who fits Baxter’s standards. The first five presidents, who helped instigate America’s freedom, were still trapped in monarchy’s glamour: They hated monarchial rule, yet desired the appearance of a king. Their periods of rule was marked...