Monday, February 22, 2016

The days of dark money and dirty advertising are dying

By Roger Utnehmer

The days of dark money and dirty campaign advertising are dying in America.

We can thank the core values reflected by the emerging millennial generation for the most significant improvement in political discourse since the emergence of the Progressive Party a century ago.

Millennials reject bombast, hype, exaggeration and most of the negative characteristics of political expression in America today. They dream, desire fairness and are race and gender agnostic. That means discrimination will die the same death as dark money and dirty campaign ads.

The surging Sanders support, the Trump phenomenon and the inability of the largest super pac in history to keep Jeb Bush in the presidential race are reasons for optimism.

Negative ads do not move millennials. The more Hillary Clinton attacks Bernie Sanders the higher he rises in the polls. Donald Trump's self-funded success without television creates the new post-millennial paradigm. Jeb Bush and his super pac spent more than $150 million on negative tv ads. The millennial rejection of dark money buying dirty ads will render thse ads ineffective and obsolete in future races.

Our television screens and mail boxes will soon be sanitized by the elimination of the dirty ads that no longer work.

Millennials respect authenticity. They reject the content of political ads that moved generations before them. Their greatest and most profound impact will come from their congenital commitment to fairness. The millennial generational affinity to fairness as a core value will impact the 2016 election and those to follow.

A campaign finance system rigged and corrupted by dark money is not fair.

Civil service and merit selection being replaced by political cronyism and patronage is not fair.

The concentration of political power in caucus leadership at the expense of political independence is not fair.

The emasculation of collective bargaining power is not fair.

Having to boil drinking water in Kewaunee County, as if it were a third-world slum, is not fair.

College debt so high graduates cannot afford a car payment much less a home mortgage payment is not fair.

And an immigration policy that prevents millions of people from experiencing a God-given right of self-determination is not fair.

Millennials make me proud and optimistic that are best days truly are ahead of us.

They are restoring civility, fairness, decency, authenticity, civic engagement and dreams to the political discourse of America. And that's very good news.

That's my opinion. I'd like to hear yours.

Roger Utnehmer is President and CEO of, and a member of Common Cause in Wisconsin's State Governing Board.