Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You Don’t Have To Be A Millionaire

You don’t have to be a millionaire to run for office, but according to the Republicans, it doesn’t hurt. In an effort to demonstrate the level of desperation and corruption that our political landscape has become, the Republican’s are recruiting wealthy candidates for the upcoming House races. The Republicans need wealthy candidates because of their anemic fundraising the last few years, thanks in great part to their Party leader and President George W. Bush. Because this administration and its policies have been so unpopular, fundraising for the Republicans has slowed to a trickle and it is affecting all levels of the Party.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 — Confronting an enormous fund-raising gap with Democrats, Republican Party officials are aggressively recruiting wealthy candidates who can spend large sums of their own money to finance their Congressional races, party officials say.

At this point, strategists for the National Republican Congressional Committee have enlisted wealthy candidates to run in at least a dozen competitive Congressional districts nationwide, particularly those where Democrats are finishing their first term and are thus considered most vulnerable. They say more are on the way.[1]

The Republican strategy has two major flaws; the first is that just because a candidate has a lot of money it doesn’t guarantee their election to office. In fact in most cases it is just the opposite the candidate spending the most of his own personal wealthy is usually defeated. It seems the voters can usually tell an asshole, no matter how much money he has. The second flaw is that it is immoral; by using this strategy the Republicans are skirting the campaign finance laws. Let me explain, by having these millionaires running for elected office bankrolling their own campaigns they are not subject to any limits on funding. Whereas, if these same “candidates” were just making campaign contributions, their donations would be subject to the current campaign finance laws.

This Republican and others argued that ready access to large sums of money was no substitute for a candidate with the personal qualities and political assets needed to meet the demands of a modern campaign, from an unflappable manner on the trail to an established network of allies and supporters.

In fact, past elections show that candidates who spend large sums of their own money frequently end up losing. In 2006, for example, only 2 of the 10 candidates who spent the most of their own money on their own races for House seats won the elections, according to an analysis of finance records and election results.[2]

The Republicans are well aware of the data concerning the dismal election record of candidates who spend large sums of their own money. Having that information it calls into question this whole strategy except that the goal is not to get these candidates elected. Oh sure if they happen to get elected that would be great, but that is not expected or likely. So then what is the real strategy behind this? It is simply to force the Democrats to spend money on races they normally would not have to spend money on. The goal is to try to take money away from races that are truly competitive to spend on races that are not. Because no candidate can afford to have an opponent spending unlimited amounts of cash without a similar outlay of cash on their part, the Democrats will shift money to the race where the wealthy candidate is recklessly spending away from say a closely contested race.

It is a sad day when you are so desperate that you are not even trying to win, you just want to bloody your opponents. The Republicans have resorted to the scorched earth philosophy, due to their unpopularity and their bankruptcy of new ideas. We can’t win, but we will corrupt the system by dumping enormous amounts of cash for no other reason than we can.

It is precisely this type of strategy that has caused so many Americans to lose faith in our entire political process. Our political landscape is no longer a war of ideas, it has become a war for the sake of war. These two political parties are so entrenched in the warfare mentality, that it is no longer about what is best for the country it is about winning at all costs; give no ground and take no prisoners. If we continue to proceed down this road not only will we have a government that doesn’t function, we will have a society so divided it cannot be governed. It seems that each year we are becoming more and more separate, with each group becoming more defined, isolated, and cut off from debate or diversity. We no longer present our ideas for review in the community square, instead we only present them to those who are likeminded further reinforcing the logic of our argument. If that logic is flawed it never gets to be debated and debunked, at that point it becomes fact.

Today, too many false arguments are being presented as fact on both sides. Rather than investigate and study problems, they have been reduced to sound bites and talk show analysis. Complex problems have been condensed to little more than talking point solutions. Each side fills the crowd with only people who share their worldview, we no longer have the spontaneity of hearing a candidate’s true feelings and values with the give and take of an evenly divided audience. Now we see candidates being spoon fed questions by supporters or even worse “planted questionnaires”, it has all become so choreographed who can tell who truly stands for what. In the absence of debate, we end up with George Bush.

[2] Ibid.

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