Has campaigning become more about money than the issues?
Published on November 05, 2012
As time goes on, the focus on fundraising in political campaigns just gets more and more ridiculous. Ideas and ideals, it seems, are taking a backseat to cold, hard cash. He with the most fundraising dollars wins, regardless of whether or not he (or she) has the best ideas for our nation.
This is one of the reasons why Buddy Roemer was my personal favorite during the GOP primary. He ran a great campaign, taking only grassroots donations, and pledged that his first actions upon taking office would be to enact reforms to loosen the grip that special interest groups have on Washington politicians. The only problem was, he had no hope of winning ' his anti-special interest message was so unpopular with the GOP elites that he was shut out of every debate, and was robbed of too many good opportunities to get his name out to the masses.
And in some ways, the focus of the 2012 presidential campaign has been more on fundraising than it has been about ideals. Personally, I rarely donate to political campaigns, but I sent $15 to Romney/Ryan this go-around, because I believe strongly that their agenda of fiscal responsibility will help to bring our economy back, while the president's plans will just continue the stagnation that we have seen for the last few years. And while I don't regret my donation, I regret using my primary email address when I donated, because I have received at least one fund-raising email nearly every day since then.
But the real kicker during this election cycle has been some of the stories about fundraising coming from the Obama campaign. It's like something out of the twilight zone ' the incumbent President, who didn't have to spend any money in a primary campaign, has been desperately trying to raise every dime that he can for the past several months. His campaign is still claiming that if Obama loses the election, it will be because he was out-spent by the Romney campaign.
It's been an endless string of begging and cajoling: donate to the Obama campaign, and you could have dinner with a celebrity! And right after that celebrity dinner is over, another movie star lines up to try and gin up more money for the desperate incumbent.
Perhaps the most bizarre fund-raising scheme of the campaign has been President Obama's constant begging for people to donate in the most bizarre ways. Planning to give your friend a wedding present? Try donating to the Obama campaign in their name instead - because everyone knows a political donation is just as useful to a couple just starting out as something practical for their home. Giving a birthday present? Donate to Obama! Bar Mitzvah? Obama!
Then, as if that wasn't strange enough, there was the "garage sale for Obama" movement. It wasn't enough that all of your wedding and birthday and anniversary presents were donations to the Obama campaign, now you are expected to sell your belongings - because re-electing Obama is just that important.
But in and amongst all of these bizarre new fundraising schemes, one little thing was forgotten. After four years, and a campaign that has dragged on and on, President Obama still doesn't have any new ideas. His agenda for the next four years is pretty much the same as what it was for the last four years. When President Obama was elected, he talked about bringing hope and change - rebuilding roads and bridges, hiring teachers that will fix our education system. Today, four years later, he is running on the same agenda. After years of unemployment and billions of dollars flushed down the toilet, the agenda has not changed.
For all of his big push to squeeze blood out of the turnip that is his base, the president doesn't really have any new ideas to offer. For all of his fund-raising, there is no great ideological motivator behind his campaign other than to beat the evil capitalist hate-monger Mitt Romney. And if the Romney campaign does raise more money than the Obama campaign, this will be the reason: Mitt Romney is running a positive campaign based on a plan for the future of America. President Obama is running a negative campaign based on tearing down Mitt Romney in the hopes that he can discourage enough people from voting for the opposition.
Negativity is not a plan. The same failed agenda is not a future. But for a presidential campaign, it is all too easy to let ideals take a back-seat to fundraising. If this is the future of political campaigns in the US, then we are all in trouble.