Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, October 06, 2003  

The President's approval rating has now fallen to 50% or lower in most polls. When polled on the issues, voters far more often prefer the Democrats' positions. Iraq is a quagmire. The economy's dead on arrival. Unemployment's up, the number of insured is down. And now the White House is facing the specter of a criminal investigation. So is there any reason to think the President has a shot at re-election? Sure there is.

Say it with me: M-O-N-E-Y.

When he started running in 1999, Bush was an amiable governor who had only five years of experience as a politician. He had failed at every previous venture he'd ever attempted. He'd dodged the war, spent his youth drunk and absent, and didn't have the first clue about foreign policy. He was a candidate of whom so little was expected that he could claim "victory" in debates against Al Gore simply by not confusing France and Spain. In the end, he managed to beat a popular Vice President with decades of experience. What gave George his credibility? Yup, M-O-N-E-Y.

I could give the example of a certain governor from a tiny New England state whom six months ago everyone had dismissed as impossibly marginal. That was, until . . . well, you get the picture.

We all know that money has corrupted politics. It has skewed national elections so that those who win are those who can attract the biggest spenders. It has aced out the little guy and put the democratic process at an arm's length -- held at bay while wealth and business attend $2,000-a-plate dinners. Good Democrats are at a loss about what to do: You can't beat money without money, but getting the money means drifting from your agenda.

In 2000, 50 million people cast a vote for Al Gore. That's a lot of people; put them together and you have mustered a force of enormous wealth. My proposal: Give fifty bucks to a political campaign.

Let's say Bush shakes the wealthies' coffers to the tune of something in the neighborhood of $400 million this election season (a reasonable ballpark). In order just to match this total, only 16% of Democrats would have to pony up a U.S. Grant -- and that assumes they only give fifty, and that no other groups give a dime.

Let's face it - the only way Bush can get re-elected is to buy the votes. When people are polled about the issues, they lean heavily Democratic. But put a half-billion dollars of fear and hate on the airwaves, and pretty soon people start to shape up and vote GOP. However, if this is countered by a popular movement of the people, and if these people have pooled their resources, they become the power brokers. Politics following the people. Imagine.

Where to spend your fifty bucks? Hey, that's up to you -- this is a democracy, right? Save it and give it to the eventual nominee. Give five dollars to each Democratic candidate. Give $25 to a presidential nominee and $25 to your state senator. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we the people actually do have the power, but we have to exercise it.

This year I made my first political donation. It occured to me that there are probably a couple hundred or so Kucinich supporters out there right now. Kucinich has been marginalized because of his lack of money, not his positions (mainly because, since his underfunded campaign is marginalized, no one knows his positions; a vicious cycle). If all of us had given fifty dollars, Kucinich would be on the cover of every magazine in America.

But this isn't a pitch for Kucinich -- it's a pitch to reclaim our country. It's a pitch for you to go pull fifty bucks out of the beer fund and give it to the candidate of your choice. If we all do that, the people's candidate will emerge. Fifty bucks ain't much. But fifty million voters are. Put 'em together and you got a whole lotta Goodbye George.

[Editor's note: This is a column I published over at Open Source Politics this morning. Normally I avoid double posting like the plague, but on issues of political action, getting the word out is key.]

posted by Jeff | 11:35 AM |
Blogroll and Links