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There are some things money can’t buy; for everything else, there’s American ignorance!

October 2, 2007

Oh, Newt. While I’d like to think you took my advice last week and realized that raising $30 million in 3 weeks was impractical, I’m sure that was not the case. I won’t argue the importance of your political action committee, American Solutions, or the difficulty of obtaining funds this late in the race…

…ut I can use your reluctance as an example of what I think is most disturbing about American politics.

Take, for instance, CNN’s most prized headline this chilly evening, which (perhaps discretely) applauds Sen. Barack Obama’s $20 million (and possibly more) fundraising blitz this quarter. The not-so-shocking amount puts the not-so-inexperienced senator at about $74.9 million this election cycle.

For anyone interested in the math, that amount would cover nearly 44,600 AU students’ financial tabs… yea, tell me about it…

Anyway, the amount, in my mind, really forces us to reconsider the age old question: to whom are the candidates most accountable or responsible? Sure, we’d like to believe in the merits of basic democratic theory, that our electoral system only allows the most qualified and (or) popular candidates to assume office. But what about the thousands of interest groups, PACs (like Gingrich’s) and businesses who donate the most money to presidential candidates? It’s true; the larger one’s coffers, the better one’s chances at securing success in the primaries.

I mean, this isn’t always the case; Howard Dean and John McCain, in their earlier runs for their respective party’s nomination, far outdid their competition. But for the most part, donations produce votes. Fundraised dollars means advertisements and canvassings, appearances and stump speeches, bigger staffs and more ambitious goals; more showiness, more political grandeur, more pageantry, all of which is uncharacteristic of real grass roots democracy.

And when the media hypes earnings, they give the impression that the candidate with the most money is indeed the most popular. Granted, this is sometimes true (or near true), as a recent CBS poll of the Democratic field would demonstrate. But any publicity is good publicity. Why would an able minded middle or low income American donate a large sum of money to a candidate (who perceivably promised adequate representation of their demographic) the media depicts as losing or already lost? It’s paradoxical, to say the least.

So when I hear the big guys like Gingrich and Obama lambasting the political system while fretting over much-needed campaign dollars, I start to wonder whether this whole “we’re going to change American politics as we know it!” scheme is nothing more than an excellent sound byte. You can’t change America’s election structure if the most contact you have with the country is the random debate and the occasional thousand-per-head dinner. It’s about time someone realized that…

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