A pinpoint problem with the whole American political system is the specter of all the politicos running about hat-in-hand for cash. Now I'm not against charity to the poor, but for those already living well -- as all of these politicians are, even the comparatively honest ones -- who wants my money better had barter a service for it!! Am I to believe that these politicians know better than I do how I ought to use my own hard-earned money for my own benefit? And what, exactly, is all this money needed FOR? Most politicians during the fundraising phase of their life cycle crow about how much they got this quarter or that quarter, then seem to squander it. Money, naturally, buys media time with which the candidate may become 'known' for their face, if not their ideas; but buying time from the media chains us to the conception that this ought to be the natural order of things -- but in the Internet age, we ought to be able to break those chains!! One person advocating powerful ideas can outcontend a dozen defenders of what so obviously does not work, has not worked, will not work. And what else does the politician need cash for? To pay advisers who won't work for free because their hearts are with the paychecks, not with the ideas? To pay for food and lodgings on the 'campaign trail'? Only if there aren't supporters out there who'll take the candidate in for the night. To gas up that campaign vehicle? Drive your own car, and spend some of your own money if you wish to earn a job which happens to be high-paying from the public trough.
Indeed, not long ago, I received a solicitation for a contribution from a political candidate I personally have favored. Not a terribly uncommon event, as I have signed up to a number of political mailing lists simply to see what sort of things would be communicated to me. But this one was different, not in content, but for who it was from. Without naming names or identifying what office was sought even, it was from one of the very small handful of politicians who I generally respect and consider to be a principled person whose deeds consistently and uncompromisingly match what they claim as their fundamental views. Here was a candidate who had spoken out against our broken campaign structure and its deleterious effect of winnowing choices to the media-approved insider establishment candidates of the two major parties, about the power of individuals to bypass this corrupt process and prevail through the power of ideas. And what especially struck me about this fundraising appeal was how routine it was, how like all the other politicians it spoke of a need to raise 'x' amount by the end of the quarter or the financial reporting period to achieve some perceived advantage in the public eye. Naturally, it surely came from a campaign operative, not from the candidate directly, but it just as surely could not (or at least ought not) have come without the candidate's knowledge.
Now, I understand how a campaign works in this day and age, and the powerful forces pressuring candidates to surrender their principles to conformance with a well-worn mold. But if candidates -- and their supporters -- wish to capitulate to a broken and corrupt system, well, that'll only make things worse. In every such campaign is the steady drumbeat of conformists echoing the mantra that we've got to work within the confessedly broken system in order to obtain the power to fix the system. Well I'll tell you, I've seen one party 'in power' over the system, and I've seen the other party 'in power' over the system, and what has universally happened is the party in power insists that it must maintain the broken and corrupt system, and continue playing within the broken and corrupt system, so that it may use the power it earned by berating that system to simply maintain what power they have. Naturally, the persons who prevailed by showing fealty to the flaws of the system are not going to repair the very cracks through which they crept into power, for they will continue to believe that this is how power is properly achieved, until they are shown otherwise. If we compromise our values to gain an uncompromised system, we never gain an uncompromised system. Period. And that is exactly
why the candidate whose solicitation I received ought to be able to do so without asking for campaign money.
The Constitution of the United States of America
requires my conscience and my vote if I am to elect public officials of my liking; it does not require a dime of my money. And while it is true that no one is forced at gunpoint to make campaign donations, the entire system is set up to extort donations from the citizenry by hanging its manufactured importance over their heads. Americans dug over $2 Billion out of their pockets for politicians in the 2008 cycle (at the federal level alone), and $6 Billion
for the 2012 cycle; and why, because they wanted to? Because they had no better use for their money than to put it into the hands of government officials -- of both parties -- who have shown little respect for the value of money and less ability to wisely cabin their use of it? The system conditions people to believe they can not 'win' without giving money just as it conditions people to believe they require the general intervention of government at all, that government is a proper arbiter and enforcer of religious or moral codes, and that the American government owes its blood and treasure to the world in a burdensome policing role. Even the wealthy, the Wall Street bosses and union heads, who are oft perceived as having more skin in the game, and who receive boondoggles back from the politicians they support, must chafe at the thought they have no choice but to give up millions (often to candidates for both parties
, as many corruption scandals have exposed), both aboveboard and through under-the-table favors. On such people, more than anyone else, this system of artificially induced donation pressure acts as a disproportionate tax, one quite possibly spent more frivolously than those collected by the formal structure of taxation. And so is the entire system premised on a fallacy
which needs disproving, and badly.
We owe it to our country, to our country's friends, to those who seek to emulate us, and to our future
, to demonstrate that an idea can indeed by more powerful than a dollar; that powerful ideas can prevail over moneyed ideas. We owe it to ourselves. If every American woke up to the fact that they needn't give away a penny to politicians, if no funds at all rolled into those campaigns, the playing field would be truly leveled, and the candidates would need to prevail on the strength of ideas alone. The solution, then, is not convincing people to give more and more; it is convincing them to give nothing
-- a proposition strongly aligning with their natural interests in keeping what they have earned. Now, suppose 150 million people vote next election and we end up picking a 'winner'
from another pair of moneyed, manicured establishment candidates. That 'winner' can then turn around and point to the votes cast as being an endorsement of 'the system' itself; all of these people voted despite the systemic flaws pointed out to them, so they must approve in some measure of the system as it stands. The same may be claimed to apply with cash given; in fact, possibly more so as the amounts of cash involved have evolved to staggering plateaus. Our current president
reportedly speaks of raising a billion dollars all his own, and high profile House and Senate and governors races are likely to enter the realm of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars more raised.
I am of the conviction that there is no intellectually strenuous proposition in convincing people to not part with their own money unnecessarily. Imagine if this goal became the focus of those who truly believe that this system is broken, and are not willing to await the empty promise of the next election cycle, and the next one after that, and the next one after that
, to begin effecting a transformation of the system. And imagine the support a politician would garner by simply declaring, "I don't want anybody to give any of their money to any politician." I wonder, now, whether any political type possesses the fortitude to stand and exclaim as much; but I surely do. Give away no free money to politicians -- of any
party, of any
ideology -- they've surely not earned it as well as you have.