NASCAR and Politics Have a Lot in Common

Sunday, July 25, 2010
by Patrick Dorinson

If you have ever watched a NASCAR race on television or had the thrill of attending one in person, you can’t help but notice all the corporate logos of the sponsors plastered everywhere. They are all over the cars, hung from banners attached to the grandstand and they festoon the fire retardant racing jumpsuits and protective helmets the drivers wear.

There is everything from Coors Light the Official Beer of NASCAR to Tylenol the Official Pain Reliever of NASCAR and Prilosec OTC the Official Heartburn Remedy.

If you drink too much of the official beer on race day you will need the official pain reliever and the official heartburn remedy come Monday.

Each driver has a main sponsor and then a bunch of secondary sponsors. For example, Jimmie Johnson’s main sponsor is Lowe’s, the home improvement giant and Jeff Gordon is sponsored by DuPont.

In cowboy parlance they are “ridin’ for the brand” or in this case driving. When you have the Lowe’s logo on the hood of your car it leaves no doubt who you work for.

As I saw a commercial for an upcoming race it got me to thinking.

When politicians want to get elected or re-elected and want to show how connected they are to “ordinary Americans” they either grab a gun put on camouflage outfits and go hunting or ask to ride in the pace car or wave the flag to start a NASCAR race.

They don’t really like these people and can’t wait to get back to Washington and the smart set.

Just like any successful NASCAR team, our politicians need sponsors—the bigger the better. They are “sponsored” through campaign contributions.

They get some money from rich folks who seem to have more money than sense.

And they always say how many small $10 internet or mail contributions they get from some unsuspecting sucker who thinks they actually mean what they say in their campaign ads. You know stuff like “I am for the working man” or “On your side” or “Fighting for you!”

But most of their campaign treasure chests come from the big money pockets of labor unions, Wall Street big shots, corporate PACs and special interest groups. Each one of these entities has unique logos.

So I have a great idea.

When they are campaigning or introducing a bill on the House or Senate floors or are scolding corporate and special interests in some Torquemada-like Inquisition in a committee room, they should wear jackets with all the logos of their “sponsors” just like a NASCAR driver.

It would help the voters back home know who has bought and paid for their representative and it is much easier than having to research all their campaign records on the internet to find out who supports them. 

And when hearings or floor sessions are televised on C-Span or FOX or CNN, there should be a crawl at the bottom of the screen that lists any campaign contributions related to the issue they are discussing. You know kind of like the stats of a baseball player as he stands in the batter’s box.

Maybe we could even have play-by-play announcers describe the action or in the case of Congress inaction. I can see it now. Former members could give “color” commentary and we could have corporate and union and special interest logos hanging from the formerly hallowed halls of the United States Capitol.

Imagine the banners of the Sierra Club right alongside Exxon Mobil or the AFL-CIO next to the NRA. What pageantry! What a slice of Americana! The perfect marriage of sports and politics!

It won’t be hard for CNN or FOX or any other network to make difficult adjustments to their coverage since they already seem to cover politics and government as if they were sporting events on ESPN.

And the people won’t’ have to guess for whom that politician is shilling for. They will know right up front.

Seeing Majority Leader Harry Reid in a bright purple SEIU union jacket debating parliamentary points of legislation with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decked out in a black and gold NRA jacket might just get NASCAR fans interested in politics.

At the very least it would be as plain as day who “sponsors” them and why.

Because folks if you think they are working for you think again.