Doesn't matter who you talk to. Neighbor. Co-worker. Stranger on a street corner. Ask them about political ads on TV. Here's what you hear: "Can't stand 'em." "Don't watch them." "Never pay any attention to that garbage." "I change the channel as soon as I see one."
Of course many if not most who say that are lying. If no one is watching the ads, how does anyone in Wisconsin know who Ron Johnson is, much less support him? He has no public record to examine because he's never held any public office. He's never even sought one before. In his current bid for U.S. Senate, there haven't been any candidate debates yet. Johnson has avoided media interviews like the plague.
His campaign has consisted of TV ad after TV ad after TV ad. If no one's paying attention to the TV ads, no one would know Ron Johnson exists.
To seriously compete for public office in our country nowadays, you have two options: Have a personal fortune or be willing to take out a second mortgage on your soul. Either way, you spend a bundle and people conclude you bought the office. One way, we end up with a House of Multi-Millionaires. The other, a House of Whores. This is the Cash-22 of contemporary American politics.
Voters have it in their power to break us free of this wretched plight. All the money is needed to pay for TV air time. If people really and truly would do what they say they do already, namely ignore the ads completely, it wouldn't take that long for candidates and their operatives to figure out that spending boatloads on TV is a colossal waste of money. They would be forced to innovate, to come up with new ways to reach voters. They would have no choice but to debate and do media interviews.
And we would have something more closely resembling an actual democracy.