By Brian McKay
The Republican Establishment, can blame Sarah Palin. “Why Sarah Palin? What did she do other than sounding drunk during recent rants?”, you might ask. Well she and host of other political wannabees have managed to leverage being in the national conservative spotlight into big bucks. Like serious money!
Getting a contract with Fox News can be the Holy Grail of a failed presidential campaign. Just ask Mike Huckabee who hosted his own variety hour for elderly people (replete with Pat Boone music) on Fox News for almost 7 years. And Sarah Palin, she turned a Vice President candidacy and abysmal knowledge of geography into a gig with Fox News that made her millions until getting canned last summer. It also catapulted her into several reality shows (she currently has a show on the Sportsman Channel. What the hell is that about?). Palin’s daughter, Bristol, even got to be on Dancing with the Stars and paid tens of thousands of dollars for abstinence speeches, until just a slight bit a hypocrisy brought that gig to an end.
Conservative commentary pays and pays well! A Tea Party-ish conservative has options someone on the left will never have because of a near rabid, elderly fan base that tunes in every night for hours. They spend good money at movie theaters to see low budget films about President Obama destroying the world in 2016. The average Fox News viewer age is 58. In TV land, that is old. In fact, it is the oldest average of any channel. This demographic is extremely profitable as their viewing hours are substantially higher than anyone on the left would ever dedicate to political rhetoric (does that imply life balance?). These old people are so profitable that business people with other political leanings have talked about entrance into this market because it makes financial sense (hmm… that is a thought).
They will buy anything their conservative show hosts recommend. Never mind that a Bill O’Reilly history book has as many facts as a telenovela, they’ll buy it. Gold for a coming depression, stock schemes right before the market tanks, phony natural pills that extend your life span and prevent hypertension; they are buying it all. If it has end of the world anywhere in the ad, it will be snapped up faster than a Kirby vacuum on the Home Shopping Network. The dedicated older, conservative demographic is a bonanza, at least until they start dying off. Better make that money now!
We could talk about how we are losing our parents and grandparents to hours of political scare tactics and conspiracy theory emails, but that is an article for another day.
So any presidential bid at all is a catapult into the big bucks. How did this all effect the current presidential nomination? Try seventeen candidates going into the first debate last August. Seventeen! There were so many candidates that two separate debates had to be held for the first time ever. The candidates that knew they had little chance still wanted their name out there for the post candidate speaking fees alone.
It isn’t any wonder that the Republican voters were confused and split right from the beginning. It was a perfect set up for the orange and boisterous one, who got all the air time from his offensive tweets, to capture the most attention. A fractured field created a true mess and the Republican establishment effectively lost control. They are paying for it now.
This will keep repeating as long as the Fox News viewers stay alive and glued to the TV.
Expect 20+ candidates in 2020.
Featured photo courtesy of Flickr, under a licence from Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption and has his degree in political science from Gonzaga University. He feels this election could be the most important of our lifetimes so far. As a single guy, he is often found eating really bad food over the sink.