Friday, January 04, 2008

Without the Big Bucks, Can Anyone Grow Up to Be President?

As of October 2007 Campaign money received for the top three (as for a money) candidates for the Democrats and Republicans:
Clinton total money received $91 million
Obama total money received $80 million
Edwards total money received $30 million
Romney total money received $ 63 million
Giuliani total money received $46 million
McCain total money received $ 30 million
Total: $340 million dollars

For the 2004 primaries Bush topped Kerry in money receiving $59 million to Kerry's $55 million.

What's bothersome is not only the ridiculous amount of money raised to run a campaign but where that money comes from and where it goes. Who's giving - lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, investment bankers, real estate developers. It's like laying bets (not that I know) venturing that your risky investment will pay you back in doubles , at least.

How is campaign money used? Is it all newspaper and TV ads? Is it for the public's benefit to learn more about the candidate? I've read that 53% is spent on administration (running the campaign-staff salaries, travel, office rents), 19% is on campaign expenses (consultants, polling buttons) and 15% is on media (TV/Radio air time, print ads, internet).

I appreciate that we have elections. I like it that we can vote simply because we're citizens - no race/gender test, no literacy test, just able to vote. I just don't like our election process.

What I don't like is the length we give to candidates to convince us to vote for them. What I don't like is the millions upon millions of dollars spent to run an election campaign. Yeah, money doesn't guarantee a place at the convention. It's only the day after the Iowa caucuses and anything can change between now and June. Hillary is the front runner as far as money raised but placed third. It seems logical to me that if the election process was shortened to say, six weeks, less money would be needed to be raised to run these campaigns. And where could that money go? What charities could benefit from these donors beneficence?

One could argue, "This isn't taxpayer money, it's money freely donated, no one's forcing folks to donate". Right, but what charitable causes, human events are being swept under the carpet because our focus is on Obama vs. Clinton or Huckabee vs. Romney. I think the U.S. election has a tendency to make our country myopic and given that it lasts almost two years, that's a lot of navel gazing. And how long does it really take to run a primary? Why do only a few states run elections at a time. Doesn't it make more sense for the entire country to have their primaries at the same time. I remember voting in California months after Iowans are New Hampshire-ites or anyone else of the east coast. It was like, "What's the point, isn't the candidate basically chosen by now?"

So who is for election reform? Who is looking at our process and shaken their head in dismay, seeking to shake it up and make it more efficient. Anyone?


Marti said...

I'm with you Barb - it seems a horrible waste of money and attention stretched out over too long of a time.

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

Thank you Marti!

Hannah said...

Didn't England take a short time to choose a new PM after Tony Blair stepped down?

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

Yes, Hannah, the British election process, in my opinion, seems a bit more logical - very short, I think about 6 weeks.

Hannah's real mom said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Barb, as i so often do. ;) Except for what would my dear sweet husband do with his time if he doesn't get to read his political columns every day for 18 mos-2 years of the process.

Dave Moody said...


The UK didn't have an election between Blair and Brown. They elect parties, and the leader of the party becomes the Prime minister- the electioning to lead the party happens within the parties, not btw them. Since Labour won a year or so ago, they don't have to call elections for five yrs... and so who is PM is strictly up to Labour. Blair stepped down, Brown was elected (by Labour) as their leader, he became the PM.

Brown must call an election at some point within the next three (?) yrs, and then the people will choose whether or not Labour or Tories or Lib Dems (probably not) will have the majority of seats in Parliament.

Anonymous said...