October 17th, 2008

A Campaign Without Cash

photo credit: traskblueribbon

Imagine, if you will, a political campaign being run without any money. Far-fetched, I know, but consider it for a moment: individuals volunteering their time to the candidates they support, donating resources for signs and other materials, and going door to door to connect with people and pitch their favorite candidate’s platform.

In an election cycle that has brought in almost $1.5 billion total, one can only wonder what this money could do if spent on things other than commercials, signs, and airplanes. Campbell Brown of CNN has suggested that the current presidential candidates stop using their money on negative campaign ads (which have little to no effect) and donate to food banks that are in dire need of supplies.

I’m not sure what the campaign finance laws (thanks, McCain-Feingold!) are regarding using campaign money for such purposes, but regardless of the (horrible) laws on the books, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Here’s a better idea: get rid of the money to begin with. I’m not talking about passing a law to ban donations, but about individuals who refuse to be bought. Money isn’t an inherently evil thing, but when it becomes the main driving force by which an individual is able to gather support, make his own message heard, and push his opponent(s) to the fringe of public spotlight, then its effects are destructive.

A campaign without cash would be an interesting thing, to be sure. Perhaps only then would we see politicians have to explain the planks of their campaign platform in full sentences, rather than thirty-second sound bytes. Maybe it would entice people to do their homework more, rather than being swayed by observing who has received the most financial support, who is able to plaster cities with more signs, and who is able to purchase more air time.

Money has corroded the political process into an unrecognizable pulp devoid of honesty and principle. Its absence would alleviate many of the problems associated with modern campaigns, and make candidates actually work for their votes, rather than spending their time putting on makeup, getting their smile just right, and practicing their most important line: “I’m ____, and I approve this message”.

4 Responses to “A Campaign Without Cash”

  1. Kathryn Skaggs
    October 17, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    Yes, imagine… because that is all we can do! He with the most bucks, wins! This is a sick society that we are living in today. The realization that people can be bought – boggles the mind!


  2. bcrockett
    October 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    It’s a great point. And anybody who can actually do what you propose (mobilize the people ahead of mobilizing the media and special interests group funds) would, without a doubt, win the election.

    It would be a bright day day in America. But a cold day in hell.

  3. Carissa
    October 17, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

    I think it would absolutely entice people to do their homework more. And, I think people would be more concerned with the actual issues.

  4. John C.
    October 17, 2008 at 5:44 pm #

    What do you think of proposals that campaigns be publically financed? It seems that what you are saying is that they shouldn’t be financed at all. Which I don’t think is going to be possible in a national campaign.

    Are you instead saying that we ought to limit campaign contributions (say to $5 per contribution or something)? That would be interesting, I suppose. It might even be a good idea, although it could turn politicians directly into televangelists, which might not be optimal.

    That said, it is hard enough for politicians to get our attention as it is; refusing them airtime would only further alienate the average American from the political process.

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