Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mine is bigger than yours: The wasteful election fundraising process

There is something inherently wrong with a system that allows potential Presidential candidates to raise millions of campaign dollars per candidate, in what seems more like a popularity contest with emphasis on outer appearance rather than inner substance. It's a race to see who can raise (and eventually waste) the most money, in the shortest period of time, in the hopes that the person with the largest campaign kitty, through sheer dollar power, will win the much coveted top-dog position, in the end. It's like seeing who can piss the farthest.

In the first 3 months of 2007, candidates on both sides have already raised well over 90 million dollars, far exceeding the 30.9 million raised in 2004, for that same period of time. And the 90 million tally doesn't include Obama's estimated 20 million.

So far, the Clinton Empire has raised the most with 26 million, but will be pumping an additional 10 mill, into her campaign war chest (from her senate account) for a grand total of 36 million smackeroos. Close second is Mitt Romney with 23 million (which includes a 2.3 mill. loan). Then we have Obama with an estimated 20 million; Giuliani with 17 million (15 mill plus $ from a Dec. fundraising event); Edwards with 14 million; McCain has 12.5 million; Bill Richardson - 6 million; Chris Dodd - 4 million and Joe Biden with a lowly 3 million. And who knows what the others have raised, or will eventually raise.

The 2008 Presidential election is estimated to be the costliest in U.S. history, with a projected 1 billion dollars in campaign funds! And other than paying for travel expenses, political consultants, image makers, private investigators to get the dirt on their opponents, etc. what do they do with that money? They bombard the air waves with ads that might start off civil and somewhat informative but quickly degenerate into what turns into a nasty war of words and eventual vilification of the other candidate/s.

1 billion dollars is an enormous amount of money that would be much better spent funneled into organizations that help the needy. If everyone who donated to political campaigns gave the money, instead, to their favorite charities, or to non-profit arts organizations, then there would be less need for government funding, which so many people complain about.

I have a simple solution: each candidate would have to answer a series of questions with respect to where they stand on all the pertinent issues, along with a bio and personal essay on why they deserve to be Prez. This information, paid with taxpayer money, would then be sent to every eligible voter in the country (and abroad) and that's it! No vicious TV ads, no campaign stumping, although debates would be fine. It should be about what they stand for, not how much money they can accumulate.

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Unknown said...

It has all gotten out hand, way out of hand, democracy suffers when the principal qualifier for Public Office becomes money. Your idea makes sense, as worthwhile as any alternative I have seen.

Incognito said...

It's just so bloody wasteful!

Billy T. Johnson said...

I agree completely with this post.

Incognito said...

If enough people get fed up, maybe we can change the system, Billy T! :-)