March 15, 2008

Pennies from Heaven -- Dollars to Hell

Sad as it may be, only money seems to trump super delegates when it comes to winning a presidential nomination this year. Of course, last election we didn’t have a clue who these “super” folks were, but we’re learning fast just how deeply entrenched “good old boy” politics are in our political system. We’ll reserve comment about “super delegates” for another posting – this time we’d like to focus upon the insatiable greed used to fuel the presidential campaign machines.

At the end of January, according to the New York Times, Senator Barack Obama had raised a total of $140.6 million during this campaign, just ahead of Senator Hillary Clinton’s $138 million. Jointly, that amounts to about $276.6 million.

Also in January, Fox News was reporting an appeal for a mere $5.1 million to aid the half million displaced people -- mostly women and children -- needing humanitarian assistance in Kenya. Seems to me Hillary and Barack could have agreed to chip in a bit from their coffers to do something truly worthwhile.

Of course, there are equally-compelling human needs in this country, but it all seems to be off the radar scopes of those who see something much bigger than feeding the hungry and housing the homeless: personal political power.

The rationale goes something like this – if you’ll give me the money, I can then buy the advertising and other things I need in order to win the election and thus obtain the power necessary to help our country do better. So goes the perpetual game of intellectual charades that politicians play. Some start the game focusing on a desire to make things better, but few can withstand the realities of “buying the office.”

So many promises are made – so many implied – so many perceived -- that the candidates are soon transformed from attractive soaring butteflies to unsightly caterpillars, struggling to extricate themselves from back-room obligations incurred during the campaign. They yearn to be who they once thought they were – but to no avail. They’ve paid the price. In fact, we’ve all paid the price. But having paid to come to the dance, it's a rude awakening as victors realize "you gotta dance with them what brung you."

It need not be this way. We can change things, but first we have to know what's going on. The New York Times has done a pretty good job keeping track of presidential campaign funds. Take a look.

Alas, even as we might contemplate ways to change the system, presidential campaign avarice has reached a new high – or should we say low – when it was learned this week that Senator Barack Obama raised a record $55 million in February – just one month – outdistancing Senator Hillary Clinton’s $34 million.

We need to find a better way to choose our governmental leaders.

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