Instant Karma Newsletter 9.8.20
  • The presidential campaign season kicks off in earnest today, with nearly $500 million in advertising set between now and Election Day. And that’s just from the campaigns. This unusual season is getting all sorts of usually non-political entities involved. 

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The idea that the presidential campaign season officially kicks off today — the day after Labor Day — is almost quaint, considering how almost everything, from virus testing to unemployment benefits, is seen as political. But here we are.

After a few relatively light weeks of TV advertising, President Trump’s re-election campaign says it will launch a $200 million ad blitz today that will run through Election Day. Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign announced $220 million in TV advertising and $60 million in online advertising that began on Sept. 1, as well as restarting campaign travel today.

However, that’s not what makes this campaign season so unusual. It’s the widespread involvement of normally non-political entities in the election process.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, citing concern “that our country’s election infrastructure faces many new challenges this year,” will, along with his wife, Priscilla, donate $300 million toward supporting election infrastructure and security for voting systems. He also announced that Facebook will not accept any new political advertising in the week leading up to the election, though critics called that a more of a “PR stunt” than a substantive change.

Federal officials, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, have been meeting regularly with Facebook, Google, Twitter and other social media companies to discuss how to prevent the spread of disinformation before and after the election. Facebook and Twitter limited distribution of President Trump’s comments last week that seemingly encouraged North Carolina voters to knowingly cast two ballots, which is illegal and constitutes voter fraud.

Even impact investors are getting encouraged to step into politics. “How can you have the most impact in the next 80 days?” Align Impact CEO Jennifer Kenning told Karma last week. “If you want to see real change in this country, you have to get involved.”

Here’s what else we’re watching this week:

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK MEETING (Wednesday-Thursday): Though most observers did not expect much action to come from this week’s meeting of European Central Bank officials, recent events signaled potential movement on new monetary policy. The U.S. dollar’s rapid drop against the Euro alarmed some members last week and the surge in COVID-19 cases in some European countries have some wondering of a new round of stimulus proposals will arrive sooner rather than later.

NEW YORK FASHION WEEK (Thursday): The unofficial kickoff to the mostly virtual version of New York Fashion Week is Thursday’s “The Ballot” show from Fashion Designers for Social Change, which will promote voting. Though spectators will not be allowed at the events, even at outdoor shows, this year’s shows may reach broader audiences online, allowing the fashion industry to continue moving forward despite the pandemic.

9/11 MEMORIALS (Friday): The most sacred day in New York City will feel different this year in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, especially considering the pandemic has claimed nearly 24,000 lives in the five boroughs compared to the 2,753 lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. There was talk about canceling the annual tribute in lights to those killed in the Twin Towers, out of safety concerns, but after an outcry, the tribute will go on as scheduled.

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