Posted by: Jim | June 20, 2008

Follow the Money

It’s no secret that I’m an Obama supporter, but yesterday’s move by Obama to forego public election funding is not something I’m wild about.

I will throw down the gauntlet right now and say that I believe public funding of elections is absolutely necessary to fixing this country’s ills. The problem is … we sorta do have a system where elections are publicly funded, but Obama’s message was correct: people have become experts at gaming the current system to render it meaningless. 

Enter from stage right: 527 groups , (example: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ). These groups garner unlimited donations (from whomever) and can say what they want as long as they do not “directly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate for federal elective office.” This actually becomes a free speech issue, but the “gaming” Obama refers to is that free speech can sometimes mean “lying,” only to have time and obfuscation allow the liars to walk free. In the meantime, their mission was accomplished.

To McCain’s credit, he gave the Swift Boat Veterans the smackdown, and said they were being dishonest. McCain is a better ma n than Bush, but so are most primates.

The point is, figuring out how to publicly fund elections is a sticky wicket. Everyone knows this is a huge problem. Everyone knows it won’t be easy.

Enter from stage left: Barak Obama’s grass roots donation methodology. Actually, Obama didn’t think of it; Howard Dean started it, and Ron Paul mastered it. But by getting $5, $10, and $20 donations, by the gazillions, Obama feels confident that he can earn much more than the $84 million in public funds. No one doubts him.

That’s way too fucking much money that us taxpayers should have to give to ANY party to spin their facts and elect their man. But all of this is proving what we already know; Elections are all about money. Whoever has the most, typically wins. Aside from this public money, there is also a ton of money in the “Republican/Democratic National Committee” which is an ambiguous pile of lucre that can also be applied to their presidential candidate. The Republican committee finished May with nearly $54 million in the bank, compared with just $4 million for the Democratic National Committee. Interesting disparity, and also made the option of public funding a little less appetizing for the Obama camp. In doing so, they would start out behind.

But here’s the rub: Obama is refusing to take the ONLY money offered to him that does not have any strings attached. And McCain’s only response has been, “Hey! Obama performed some sort of Jedi mind trick on us!” It’s true, these are not the democrats they were looking for. Mr. Hope is not the innocent, play-nice boy that Ms. Clinton made him out to be. So McCain is relying on that old faithful criticism, calling Obama a “flip-flopper.” Yawn. (Earth to McCain: After Bush, we really won’t mind someone who changes his mind now and then. )

The bigger issue is that Obama is abandoning one flawed system to create another, but McCain knows that most people will never understand this. Obama’s use of all these tiny contributions will not erase the huge problem of 527s. Obama is shutting down these groups, but the 2012 candidate may not have such scruples. By circumventing this problem, it appears to some as if he may be abandoning his policy to reform it.  

This is all pretty complicated. This move may also force McCain to accept assistance from 527s, which he has been sneering at, or lose the election. He probably would have lost anyway, but Obama might be forcing McCain to flip-flop. It’s kinda funny to see Democrats making the Republicans squirm during an election.

But this move does nothing to fix the problem of campaign contributions; it only complicates it further.

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Responses

  1. thank you jim for clarifying another messy mess-

    meanwhile, back in my mind, these thoughts are running free:

    a) what if there was a simple rule-anyone can pitch any amount of money behind any candidate-then surely wouldn’t the best man/woman win?

    b) the reason why they possibly won’t- is because one party represents the top class (yes we have them) of our country, and the other, the bottom (thats the rest of us).

    c) the bottom (assumption) is where obama is getting his overwhelmingly impressive support. and via obama-the bottom is learning that power can be taken!

    d) the top is worried-as it should be

    e) don’t most people already know who they are going to vote for?

    f) so now, couldn’t we, as a nation, just pay for a couple of those nice blimps to fly around and remind everyone to go vote for one, or the other????

    g) but a lot of people-such as newscasters, PR peeps and the like won’t be so busy-in fact the whole news/media industry would be VERY upset. and we know who runs them.

    h) i wish obama had suggested the intention of developing a complicated, but fair, way of dealing with these issues-while he is in office.

    h) i still like edwards.

  2. Welcome to the monkey house, Alisa!

    Regarding your conclusion of c) … yes it’s true and I agree, but it’s only a “good” thing in this instance. A system of getting millions of tiny contributions can easily be gamed. In our next election, it will be. Hell, it might be getting gamed NOW, and we wouldn’t know.

    The reason I’m so adamant about public funding is that ONLY in a situation where candidates know they can only spend a fixed amount that comes from a controlled source, and ONLY if there are no other voices allowed to create noise who are bankrolled by uncontrolled sources, can we end the formula of $=victory, which is the chief enabler of our enslavement to corporate greed.

    God, I sound like a fucking socialist.

  3. Maybe you are a socialist;-) To this point it WAS a secret to me whom you support. All I knew is you were a Bush hater.

  4. Just to chime in… While I will not vote for Commissar Obama, I don’t think he will win anymore, even though I predicted he would in January.

    He’s a great orator, he’s bi-racial so white people can feel good about themselves for supporting him, and he has good advisers and media propagandists to make his leftist agenda seem more palatable to the American public.

    But just like all leftist candidates, he is having to moderate his views publicly, and that makes him seem like a flip-flopper. His economic policy is just a silly as McLame’s, but at least ol’ John is talking about drilling for more oil. Yes, even if we started today, it would be years before we saw the results at the pump-but it sounds good.

    Hussein has not only shot down the idea of drilling, and he supports the silly and ignorant “windfall profit” tax on oil companies. American consumers are savvy enough to realize that costs imposed on a company will be passed on to them.

    War in Iraq: Nobody cares, gas is $4 per gallon and rising.

    Gun control: Nobody cares, gas is $4 per gallon and rising.

    Gay marriage: Nobody cares, gas is $4 per gallon and rising.

    (Inset pet issue): Nobody cares, gas is $4 per gallon and rising.

    I really don’t understand why McCain isn’t on hte podium every day saying “drill here, drill there, drill everywhere!” Obama can’t throw is hard-left base under the bus, so he will continue with the blame ‘Big Oil’ and the evil corporations, change, hope, Robin Hood economics, blah-blah. Even the MSM is starting to see through his bullshit.

    And for the record, I think McCain is a decrepit, senile old man, that has no business running for the most important office in the entire world, despite his honorable service to the country.

    Bash America all you want, but the President of the United States of America is still the most important figure on Earth.

    One way or another, all of us are fucked.

  5. Yep. We’re fucked. But not as fucked as our kids and grandkids.

    I hope everyone’s proud of themselves for being such a bunch of clueless short-sighted dumbfuck lemmings.

    * * *

  6. Speak for yourself Bri and not me……….

  7. We’re off on a tangent here, but I say the rising price of gas is a good thing. It’s forcing Americans to adopt better priorities, and maybe initiate a little of that good ol’ American Ingenuity. We could build so many oil wells that the Atlantic looks like a porcupine, or we can figure out how to make a car run on baby diapers. I bet the latter would happen first, but that might just be my inner optimist talking …

  8. The rising price of gas stinks. It has not changed my priorities as I still own 3 vehicles with V-8 engines and of course a 4th with a V-10. I have no intention of trading them in for a rice burner and in fact I am putting on more miles this year than last year. My priorities require this additional mileage as do my recreational tastes. I say drill for oil. Let’s limit our dependence on the world’s supply and be a bit more self sufficient. It would not upset me in the least to see $2 gas again.

  9. Bubba! Of course I wasn’t speaking for you! I would NEVER presume to speak for you, my friend; the sheer complexity of the impressive framework that comprises the way your thought processes operate, I could never hope to even come close to duplicating.

    I can only sit here in awe.

    * * *


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