Jewish World Review July 21, 2011 / 19 Tamuz, 5771
Campaign finance reform --- you're kidding, right!?
By Dan K. Thomasson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Want to know perhaps the most puzzling question in American politics? It simply is, "Who has enough money in these perilous economic times to give substantial amounts to those running for office, especially the presidency?"
The partial answer to that at this point may be fewer than those who supported the 2008 campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain, but still a substantial number who are shelling out to a field of Republicans and to the White House incumbent. This, of course, doesn't count the congressional races.
Now the second question is how much will all this cost before it ends next November. Want to guess? Without exaggerating much if any, it could amount to billions.
Obama himself is expected to raise $1 billion. Before they select his opponent, Republicans all told could easily spend near that if one includes the primary months before the election.
It's all kind of freezes one's brain, doesn't it? I mean thousands of public workers are being laid off, school teachers fired, crucial public services curtailed and on and on while those we elect to do something about it are spending gazillions just to stay on the job. Minnesota has to close down its government and other states are threatening to do so. The bickering by the political poobahs on Capitol Hill and the shilly-shallying by the White House before getting serious about raising the debt limit by an August deadline to avoid a government default on its obligations supports the radical view that democracy is a highly flawed concept.
Alas, the poor house beckons. But to paraphrase Will Rogers, the politicians will be able to ride there in a limousine with their leftover campaign dollars.
This mess cries out for a limit on how much one can spend to gain (or perpetuate) oneself in office. The British do it so we know it works. While that would most definitely work a hardship on broadcast television and those media consultants who are paid enormous sums to buy the time, it might allow at least some of those campaign contributions to be diverted to more worthwhile concerns. That is said with the full understanding that it is probably a na´ve concept.
But if nothing else it might cut down on the corruption of the system that has steadily increased with the growth of spending.
With apologies for stating the obvious, money is the driving force of politics and not public service and the winners here are not generally the "people" as envisioned by our forefathers in their concept of the Republic. Actually, as we now know those who benefit the most and provide the largesse to make sure they do are the special interests.
There was a story the other day that members of the largest of the teachers' unions, the National Education Association, (a lofty title implying a competence too often missing in today's schools) has lost some faith in Obama. It seems all that money the group raised for him hasn't produced the desired results he had promised -- things like the elimination of so much standardized testing and the reduction of the charter school movement which the NEA claims reduces support for the traditional public system.
I suppose any effort to put a limit on spending is way too optimistic given the fact that campaign spending reform has pretty much been nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ruled that corporations can contribute to campaign efforts as well as unions as a matter of free speech or something. Frankly, I sometimes find that any concept that defies common sense is generally the one the good justices favor and at the risk of impugning my own intelligence, it seems to me whatever they opine is frequently so couched in convoluted abstractions that it is often hard to understand.
So it is probably disingenuous for me to say I am puzzled by where all the campaign cash comes from in these hard times. There are still some independent contributors handing over their hard earned five bucks to their favorite candidate in blind hope he will make their lives better.
Sadly, the real money is from elsewhere and carries with it an unsavory aroma.
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