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In 1895, Mark Hanna, a U.S. senator from Ohio, explained how politics worked in his times: “There are two things that are important in politics,” he said. “The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.”
Nearly 125 years later, things haven’t changed much.
In every two-year federal election cycle in the U.S., candidates and their supporters spend billions of dollars to raise their public profiles, get their messages out, and discredit their opponents.
By the best available estimates, the 2016 presidential elections cost $2.4 billion when spending by candidates and various interest groups are combined. And, by all accounts, it would have been much more except for Donald Trump’s unique campaign strategy, which relied in large part on “earned” (read: free) media coverage rather than paid advertisements.
That’s an astounding amount of money — larger than the economies of dozens of countries around the world in that same year, including Lesotho, Bhutan and Belize. If you add in spending by candidates for other federal offices — members of the House of Representatives and the Senate — the total figure skyrockets to about $6.5 billion.
Surge in campaign spending
Historically, this is a relatively new phenomenon. According to research by political scientist Zachary Albert of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, between 1980 and 2012, spending on congressional campaigns rose 600 percent when adjusted for inflation. Over the same period, spending on presidential races increased by a stunning 1,200 percent.
In part because of Trump’s relatively low-cost campaign (he spent $398 million compared with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s $768 million), the 2016 presidential campaign was less expensive than the 2012 version. But experts don’t expect that anomaly to repeat itself.
Asked what spending would look like in 2020, Candice Nelson, professor and chair of the Department of Government at American University in Washington, didn’t miss a beat.
“2020 will be the most expensive presidential race ever,” she said.
No choice but to announce early
The extraordinary cost of U.S. elections is one reason Democrats aspiring to run against President Trump in 2020 are announcing their candidacies and starting to raise money.
Nine candidates have officially declared themselves in the race, including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, California Senator Kamala Harris, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, author Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Another two have announced exploratory committees, and at least 16 more are openly suggesting that they, too, might make a run for the White House.
And it’s possible that Trump will face a primary challenge for the Republican Party’s nomination — a fight that could attract a handful of GOP candidates, and even more money, to the campaign.
A recent report in The New York Times noted that millions of dollars from individual donors in small-dollar amounts are already being channeled to potential Democratic candidates through online fundraising platforms.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont would be able to launch another presidential campaign in 2020 with $2.1 million in such donations, while former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas has already netted $743,000. Both have expressed interest in running, but neither has officially announced his candidacy.
Trump’s permanent campaigning
For his part, President Trump never really stopped raising money, letting his 2016 campaign transition into a 2020 effort without a break. Between January 2017, the month he took office, and the end of December 2018, Federal Election Committee data shows that the Donald J. Trump for President campaign operation took in $67.5 million, and began 2019 with $19.3 million in cash on hand.
Of course, individual candidates’ outlays are supplemented, and often eclipsed, by the spending of outside entities seeking to influence the outcome of an election. Official party committees and various forms of political action committees pour hundreds of millions of dollars into presidential races every cycle, vastly increasing the total expenditure.
In 2016, for example, spending by the presidential candidates themselves added up to less than half of the total amount spent. A half-dozen Democratic presidential candidates have pledged not to accept corporate PAC contributions for their 2020 campaigns in an effort to demonstrate their independence from corporate influence.
There is no question that among advanced democracies around the world, the U.S. is an extreme outlier when it comes to campaign spending, both in absolute spending and in spending per eligible voter.
In the 2015 parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom, for example, parties were barred from spending more than $29.5 million in the year leading up to the vote. In the election that swept Emmanuel Macron to power in France in 2017, candidates could spend only a little less than $25 million each.
But why is the U.S. so different?
Some reasons are obvious. First, as we’re currently seeing, presidential campaigns begin extremely early. While this is caused, in part, by the need for an early start to cover the total cost of a successful campaign, it also contributes to the overall price tag.
Campaign cost factors
Second is the cost of getting a campaign message out in a country as large, both in terms of population and in terms of geography, as the U.S.
In general, a campaign’s largest single expense category is in paid communication. This encompasses television, radio, direct mail and digital media.
“There are hundreds of media markets and some in places like New York or California, you’re talking thousands of dollars per spot,” said Nelson, the American University professor. “And there is so much media now … it’s not like back in the day 40-50 years ago when there were three major networks and that was where you advertised. Now there are multiple platforms and you have to advertise on them. So it’s more expensive.”
But other than the rise of digital media over the past few decades, paid communication alone can’t account for the meteoric rise of campaign spending.
There are, at least, two other major factors to consider.
First, until 2008, major party U.S. presidential candidates had always chosen to accept public funding for their campaigns. This meant that the U.S. Treasury would provide funding to the candidates for their campaigns, with the understanding that candidates would abide by strict limits on how much they could spend.
Candidates shun public funding
This changed in 2008, when Barack Obama, as the Democratic nominee, declined federal money. This freed him from spending restrictions, and powered by a strong national fundraising campaign, he was able to greatly outspend his rival, Republican John McCain.
Until then, 2008 was the most expensive presidential race in history. Since then, no major party candidate has accepted federal campaign finance funds, and the results are cycles of ever-larger fundraising efforts and campaign expenditures.
Perhaps even more important was the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The ruling made vast changes to the rules regulating who could spend money on political campaigns, opening the doors to direct spending by businesses, labor unions, nonprofits and other independent groups, which injected hundreds of millions of dollars in additional spending into presidential races.
“By 2020, we’ll be 10 years into Citizens United, so you have outside groups spending inordinate amounts of money that, at the presidential level, we just didn’t have even 15 years ago,” Nelson said.
Looking forward, it’s unclear whether the upward trajectory of campaign spending can be flattened anytime soon.
Most favor campaign fund limits
It’s certainly not a question of public preference. Polling shows that a very large majority of Americans favor legal limits on how much money can be spent on federal elections.
Even many politicians have spoken up against the pernicious influence of money in politics, bemoaning the hours they spend on the phone, nearly every day, speaking to potential donors. The practice is so common, it even has a derisive nickname on Capitol Hill: “Dialing for Dollars.”
The problem is more fundamental than any question of public opinion or political will. The Supreme Court has ruled time and again that limits on campaign spending are, broadly speaking, in conflict with the Constitutional guarantee of free speech.
Some seek constitutional change
In the opinion of some campaign finance reform activists, this leaves only one path: a change to the Constitution itself.
“We face a constitutional crisis in our country, and no mere set of policies or laws can fix it,” said Ben Gubits, director of political strategy for the group American Promise. “We really do need to fix our constitutional foundation.”
American Promise is one of many groups pushing for the passage of a 28th Amendment to the Constitution, which would make it explicitly legal for lawmakers to limit campaign spending.
“It’s our responsibility to fix our broken democracy, as citizens,” Gubits said. “As Americans, we’ve kind of abdicated some of this … and it’s up to us to take responsibility for fixing this thing when it gets off track.” (VOA)
Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:
The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. | Photo by Ina Garbé on Unsplash
No Makeup Look
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look. This natural beauty does a wonderful job of achieving the minimal soft look by softly cover any dark spots or blemishes and highlighting features she's most proud of. To achieve this start with concealer and use small dots to brighten your darker areas like under eye, corner of the nose or upper lip, and any visible spots, and set it up with loose powder. Apply a soft pink lipstick, light blush, and mascara.
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look | Wikimedia Commons
This look shouts pink. When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Everyone should try a rosy look once in a while. As we are focusing on only one shade, this look is pretty easy to achieve. Bring out your favourite pink lipstick, favourite pink blush, and a matching shade of eye shadow. Start with the base - concealer, and foundation and set it up with loose powder. Follow it up with eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Remember to draw a line by not using any pink mascara, eyeliner, or a bold shade of lipstick, as this is meant to be soft on the eyes.
When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. | Wikimedia
Glass Skin Makeup
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. This look is slightly complex with an equal focus on skin before makeup, so slather on those moisturizing serums and creams to prep your skin first. Start with a highlighting primer, keep your foundation and concealer minimal to avoid looking cakey. Follow it up with soft blush & nude lips and lots and lots of highlighter. Use the highlighter on the main points of your face, like upper cheekbones, the centre of the forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid bone, and chin. If you are feeling a bit extra, don't hesitate to put some on your shoulders and collar bones. This celebrity makeup look makes your skin glow without the need for a spotlight.
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. | Photo by 邱 严 on Unsplash
Pop It Up
Put a zing to your party look with the pop of funky colour. This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. This works with your eye makeup while keeping the rest of the face minimal. Start with the base - concealer, apply a bit extra on your eyelids to make the colour pop. Don't mind going the extra mile and colour blocking your eyes with complementary colours on eyelids and under the eye. Apply nude lipstick and a soft blush to balance your look.
This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. | Pixabay
(Article originally published by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Celebrity, makeup, Deepika, Jhanavi, Korean, Red Lipstick, Glass Makeup, Pop makeup
Music composer Amaal Mallik's recent composition for the song 'Tum Aaogey' from the film 'Bell Bottom' has garnered rave reviews. "Tum Aaogey is one of my most special songs and one of my best works that I have done for film music," said Amaal during a candid conversation with IANS.
Amaal represents the new generation of Indian music. In a short span of seven years, he has delivered hits like 'Sooraj Dooba Hain' (Roy), 'Soch Na Sake' (Airlift), 'Kar Gayi Chul' (Kapoor & Sons) among several others. He happens to be one of the youngest composers to compose music for Amitabh Bachchan for the film 'Badla' and also the youngest to have performed with the Melbourne Orchestra.
Internationally, Amaal recently collaborated with pop sensation Dua Lipa for the Indian version of 'Levitating'. "It was an amazing experience for me to collaborate with Dua Lipa. She loved my work. It was the first of its kind collaboration between Indian and international music artistes and fans around the world were delighted with the new rendition of the song. It was an honour for me to do an official Indian remix and giving an Indian touch to one of her biggest tracks, one of the standout songs on the 'Future Nostalgia' album."
Internationally, Amaal recently collaborated with pop sensation Dua Lipa for the Indian version of 'Levitating' | IANS
Talking about his contemporaries, young music composers taking over Bollywood, Amaal expressed his views. "I think every young composer can helm a solo project. I am glad that certain films are having young people do solo music and that's really going to pay for many more future projects." Whereas, Amaal believes that it's also challenging to make one's own space as a young music composer among established ones in the industry.
"It is truly challenging obviously to get projects. Bollywood is completely a different ballgame and a lot of the big films obviously have bigger composers. But I think with new directors telling new stories, I think cinema is changing." "Music also is changing alongside and it's a better time now, as youngsters are getting a lot of opportunities as compared to the time when I debuted it was a little difficult to get into the scheme of films. But, I think today crossovers are happening and a lot of independent artistes have come into the Bollywood and are composing music for films," signed off Amaal. Amaal is busy working on his next independent single and upcoming film 'Radhe Shyam'. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Amaal Mallik, Dua Lipa, Solo, Singer, Rashe Shyam, Levitating, Music, Young, Bollywood
After spending three days on-orbit, the world's first civilian mission of SpaceX's Inspiration4 returned to Earth on Sunday. The crew, onboard the Dragon spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida at 7.06 p.m. EDT (4.36 a.m. Sunday India time). "Happy. Healthy. Home. Welcome back to Earth," Inspiration4 shared in a tweet. "Splashdown! Welcome back to planet Earth," added SpaceX on the microblogging site.
The mission lifted off to orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on Wednesday (India time Thursday). It was commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and joined by Medical Officer Haley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St Jude Children's Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor; Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Mission Pilot Dr Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, entrepreneur, and trained pilot.
The mission lifted off to orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on Wednesday (India time Thursday) | Wikimedia
The fully automated Dragon capsule reached an unusually high altitude of 585 kilometres, surpassing the International Space Station by 160 kilometres. The Dragon's dome window, inspired by the Cupola on the ISSl provided the crew with incredible views of Earth. "The Dragon performed a series of departure phasing burns to leave the circular orbit of 575 kilometres and then jettisoned its trunk ahead of de-orbit burns. After re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, the spacecraft deployed its two drogue and four main parachutes in preparation for the soft water landing," the company said on its website. "We loved space but it's great to be home!" Isaacman wrote on Twitter.
"The absolute most incredible experience of my life. Can't wait to share more with you all! Red heart," added Arceneaux. "What an amazing adventure! I'm so glad to be home on earth and to be back with my family. There is so much to share! What an amazing @inspiration4x team! Thanks @SpaceX!a Sembroski said. Inspiration4, which was aimed at inspiring humanity as well as to raise money for St. Jude, surpassed "the 200m goal", Isaacman shared in his tweet.
Tech billionaire and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also committed $50M for the hospital, he wrote on twitter. "Count me in for $50M," he tweeted. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: SpaceX, Dragon, Inspiration4, Elon Musk, St. Jude, Earth