What if politicians actually told the truth? It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s the idea behind Gil Fulbright, a satirical candidate “running” for the hotly contested Kentucky Senate seat, currently occupied by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Gil is brutally honest, and he gets right to the point in his introductory ad:
People of Kentucky, you deserve complete honesty, so here it is. I don’t care about you. Unless you are a donor, a lobbyist who can write a big fat check, the result that you get from voting for me is negligible.”
Judging by the overwhelming response he’s received online, the American people are hungry for a politician, real or fake, who tells it like it is. Just over a week after launching a crowd-funding campaign on the site Indie-GoGo, Gil has raised more than $59,000 from 1100 different donors, shattering his goal with 3 weeks still to go. In addition, his campaign ads have gone viral, appearing on The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, The Washington Post, and Time Magazine Online among other publications.
“This campaign, it’s not about me,” he says, walking towards the camera from behind a tree, “It’s about crafting a version of me that appeals to you.”
The ads are humorous, but the intention is serious. The Fulbright campaign is seeking to raise awareness about the corruption that defines our political system. The individuals behind his campaign want to help start a national conversation around the outsized role money plays in the election process. They stress that money in politics is not a partisan issue, rather it’s an American one. Politicians on both sides of the isle are beholden to big donors and not the constituents who they were elected to represent. As Sean Kleier, a creative director for the campaign says;
Every political campaign has millions of dollars flowing into it, and you better believe the people donating that money want something in return. Still no one is taking about this issue. So we’re sending Honest Gil Fulbright to Kentucky.
It’s this simple: the Kentucky Senate race is projected to be the most expensive in history, with total spending expected to top more than $100 million. Let me put that number in perspective for you: the average household income last year was just over 50K, so the race will cost what 2000 American families make in an entire year. The worst part is most of that money isn’t even coming from Kentucky! 87% of Mitch McConnell’s money and 75% of Alison Ludergran Grimes’ money is coming from out of state.
Obviously this satirical campaign alone won’t do much to change the culture of corruption in Washington, but hopefully it helps to start a national dialogue around the issue of campaign finance reform.