February 18, 2011

Billion Dollar Babies

This post was an Editor's Pick on the cover of Open Salon today.

National Public Radio's Morning Edition is running a story today about the possibility that the 2012 Presidential election will be a "multibillion-dollar contest."

The Dems are expected to raise at least a billion for President Obama's re-election, which means the Republicans can't be left out of this high dollar party.

According to the article (link below), President Obama raised $746 million in 2008, double what President Bush raised four years before. That 2004 amount was double what Bush the Younger himself raised in 2000.

This is outrageous. When I was in competitive high school speech long before the Civil War, one of our topics was campaign financing. Two simple ideas could completely change this madness.

Limit the amount of spending. And mean it. (Can you say Citizen's United? Despite Clarence Thomas not speaking in court for five years, his vote said a lot on that decision. Can't you see he and Ginny, sitting at home in their Statue of Liberty hats, drinking a toast to all the corporations that support their causes? Cheers!)

Have more frequent debates, broadcast from Washington DC. With today's technology, there is no need for 24/7 advertising. Use C-Span or some other existing channel. Debates could be topical (in a sense they are now, but seem to always derail.)

The debates would be widely covered, and possibility eliminate the need for the multi-state, multi-stop tours candidates make. Since funds would be limited, more focus could shift to issue-oriented debates.

Of course this is Pie In the Sky, because those who benefit (the candidates) continue to justify all the spending. The article shares an anecdote about former House Majority Leader Tom Delay.

"There's not enough money in politics," Delay told a C-Span audience, "You know, Americans spend more on potato chips than they do on elections?"

Each passing election makes me want to turn the television off. And my spouse and I are huge political junkies. Debate night at our house is like the Super Bowl and the Olympic Opening in one. However, living at the junction of three states, we are bombarded with television and radio commercials for candidates from Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, and this year looks like will be no different.

Pass the French onion dip.