Today’s political consulting profession is the very embodiment of “following the money.” It has become an industry without a conscience.
Both of us were proud campaign consultants and political operatives in our day. We were of different parties but of the same belief that, like running for office, advising and helping elect candidates who shared our views of governmental priorities and policies is and ought to be a public service. We didn’t shy away from either the tough fights or the good living that politics produced. Yet we believed it was possible to practice our profession while also holding true to a higher calling.
That motivation seems out of vogue today. While more likely than not remaining faithful to one party or the other, many consultants seem ready to work for anyone who can pay the bills. The question “Would I vote for this candidate if I lived in his/her district or state?” is seldom, if ever, asked.
And many consultants jump at the chance to work for — or to actually create — the super PACs that aren’t seeking office at all but which have endless dollars to throw around, cluttering the airwaves and souring the electorate. (This week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll provides a sobering assessment of the havoc being wreaked by the constant bombardment of negative ads.) Do the consultants ask: Where is the money coming from? Or, why is it being spent in the way it is? What is the funders’ real agenda?
We could be wrong, but we’re pretty sure that no one spends a gazillion dollars in politics just for fun.
But the problems in our profession don’t end there. Among other questionable practices is demanding and/or accepting a bonus for winning. Make no mistake, we are all for winning, but if you would work harder if you had a victory bonus written into your contract, you probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.