Monday, April 16, 2007

Who's Winning the Money Primary?


A big news story today was who is winning the "money primaries."  For the Democrats, Clinton and Obama are close to neck and neck with the Senator from New York holding a slight lead. On the Republican side, Romney and Giuliani are the two front runners. McCain who many thought would lead the pack seems a disappointment and downright "unpresidential:" at least as far as fundraising goes.

With several candidates in the race even at this early stage, perhaps close to $100 million has already been raised, a figure sure to make the 2008 race the most expensive in history. Also clear is that the frontrunners are the best money can buy.

And through all the sound and fury hailing the fundraising "prowess" of the presidential contenders, a simple question goes simply unanswered? Why does it matter?   What importance does it have on the fitness (another athletic term) or ability of one or another to lead the nation through the country's current crisis?

On the candidate's program: no headlines, (with the exception of John McCain's stupid defense of Bush's stupid Iraq war strategy). On their vision for healthcare no stories top the news wire. With summer on its way and gasoline at again at $3.00 a gallon, no news banners suggest a solution to the energy crisis and oil dependency. Rather what is important is who can raise the big bucks. And most of it – twice as much – from a small group of professional fundraisers as compared to individual contributors.

And the outcome is predictable: the Republicans will raise and spend more than the Democrats, probably by more than a third. And against such odds, the Democrats will raise, have to raise, from wherever and whoever they can. And while labor and "little America" will contribute mightily, the lionshare will come from corporate coffers. And in this historic fight against the extreme right and its mega-bucks one cannot belittle the importance of the Democrat's effort.

Still, the corrupting influence of money cannot be denied. And it is this that is driving the process. The time is long overdue to eliminate private money from electoral politics and for full public financing. Only then will prowess of ideas and program raise the debate into a more meaningful if not rarified air over the rotten stink of the money primary.
Joe Sims

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