Thursday, January 22, 2004

Re: Worth Fighting For (or Pulling a Bush or Money Talks)

First, a housekeeping matter--let's try and keep a consistent headline to our discussions so that it is easier to respond.

I think some of the tension that is created among the candidates (or among the supporters of different candidates) arises because any person who hopes to mount a viable campaign must recognize that money is sadly necessary to run a successful campaign, and recent statistics suggest that money can often be the most controlling factor. So I don't fault anyone for taking contributions from any individual who offers them and for any lawful amount. While it might be a noble stand if a candidate were to refuse any amount more than what every American could afford to give, they would simply not last. Even the "$100 Revolution" is out of reach for many. As Edwards frequently stumps, there are millions of Americans in poverty--yet they deserve a voice in the campaign as much as everyone else. We must work to change our crappy system that equates money with (democratic) power and yet begrudgingly recognize that is the system within which we presently operate.

That being said, I think it's fair when evaluating candidates to factor in who their base of support is. Ideally, every candidate wants to represent the "common person," but the reality is that we are a diverse people and sometimes candidates are forced to pick sides. But on that score donations do not give the entire picture. Regional loyalty, historical affiliations, family ties are equally important when trying to decipher exactly who a candidate works for. It seems fair to predict that someone who has spent a great deal of their career as a plaintiffs' lawyer will approach issues differently than someone who was born into a wealthy New England family (or married into one).

The decision always comes down to affection and trust. I don't think that our electoral process gives me the kind of information I really desire to make that choice as effectively as I would like, but again we must take what we got for now. And at least the choice right now does not require that we choose the "least repulsive" candidate--not yet, anyway (November is still a long way off). Let's be glad that we have a few candidates who are raising some good issues and would likely make some good changes.

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