There's a lesson here for parents across the country: Don't tell your children they could grow up to be president someday unless you're filthy rich and plan on buying the election for them.
I'm serious. Experts from both parties estimate the White House race in 2008 could cost each nominee $500 million.
What's wrong with huge sums of money being spent? Here are a few excellent reasons from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [emphasis added]:
Basically, the candidates operate on the assumption that the voters are for sale -- that the more money they spend courting the voters, the more likely it is that they will be elected.It's time to mop things up and take money out of politics according to Abi @ 604, and he backs up his assertion with the following excellent suggestions:
It gets worse. Another fact is that to acquire that amount of money, the candidates have to spend most of their time courting big donors and, in the process, pandering to whatever points of view those donors hold to get them to write the checks and bundle their contributions. With so much of their time devoted to this, there is less time for candidates to spend on developing well-thought-out positions on issues.
What that also means is more power to the rich in a country where the system is already heavily tilted to the advantage of that tiny percentage of the population, and to the disadvantage of the poor, who are steadily increasing in number and percentage.
Thus, the underlying assumptions of American elections have become that the candidates are for sale, the voters are for sale as well and the big money to buy both is in the hands of the very rich. That's what Mr. Vilsack's withdrawal means, even though he didn't spell it out. The monetization of America's elections has to be one of the saddest phenomena of our country's pretensions to democracy.
Restrict the length of campaigns — weeks, not years.Those are all worthy goals that I'd like to hear the next batch of presidential candidates promote with sincerity if they hope to get my attention, let alone my vote.
Ban political advertising.
Ban paid lobbying.
Ban political contributions by any entity except individuals.
Restrict how much a candidate can spend on an election, including the candidate's own money.