The real problem with American Democracy is the cost.
President Trump has set a fundraising goal of 1 billion dollars for the 2020 election. I’m not sure if he will hit the mark, but he might. When he ran against Clinton the two campaigns spent 1.16 billion. And that was lower than 1.97 billion spent in 2012.
And for all that money what do we get?
I decided to be a more informed voter and started following all of the Democratic challengers. I was hoping for some insights, some spark, a bit of magic. What I get is a half dozen emails almost every day asking me for money. They almost always sound desperate.
“We’ll never make it without you, Tim. We need your $10.00, if that is too much send $5.00, if you can’t afford that we’ll settle for $3.00. Whatever you can afford, we’ll take it. Anything at all. We’ve been reduced to picking up aluminum cans on the highway to buy a few precious seconds of air time. For the love of God, save us.”[i]
Look, I feel guilty knowing that some poor presidential candidate has to do without because I’m not giving them my money. But, what if I give a few dollars to somebody and they lose in the primaries? I just threw that money away. Now I look like a patsy and all the candidates will be dropping by, asking for a handout, maybe a sandwich, a ride to the bus station, a strong platform position on nuclear disarmament. I don’t need that.
As much as all of this has a serious Godfather vibe resonating through it I can do without all of my presidential hopefuls panhandling. I don’t follow Trump, but, I am pretty certain he is at least as guilty as anyone of “passing the plate.”
There has to be a way we can restore dignity to political races. First thing that pops into my head is to limit the amount a politician can spend. How many times do we need to see a commercial before we get the idea? “Yeah, I see, you want to make America great again.” If, for some odd reason, you just can’t get enough I’m sure someone put it on YouTube.
And we need to get rid of Political Action Committees. You have to wonder who ever thought that was a good idea. It is Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather with a television camera and no adult supervision.
Plus, elected officials should face a yearly performance evaluation. It should be given by the employers, we the people. Everybody can gauge how well the elected official is doing in a variety of categories on a scale of 1 to 10. If things look bleak we can try mediation or counseling, but if that doesn’t work out maybe it’s time to pull the plug. People need to feel like they have a say more than every two to four years. Send us your money, vote and live with the results.
If we can do some of these things democracy might last. If not, who knows? But, it doesn’t look good.
[i] It hasn’t gotten that bad, yet.