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Author Topic: Question from Australia for US Citizens  (Read 4482 times)
Jacobtm
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« on: November 02, 2008, 07:56:10 pm »

Individual contributions are capped at $2,000 to a specific candidate.

Obama pledged to accept public financing (if the Republican did) before he became the nominee, but eventually declined, largely because he realized he could raise much more money than McCain could.

But with our system, public financing doesn't kick in until candidates are officially nominated by their parties; this happened at the end of august/early september. So while Obama and McCain were both clearly their parties' nominees for months before public financing was even an option, they both continued to operate on what people donated to them.

In this time, it became clear that Obama could raise much more money than McCain, and so he opted to break his pledge and use his fundraising advantage. Now, largely because of the incredible organization he's built with it, he's set to win many states that previously seemed unlikely to go Democratic.

The reason Obama was able to raise so much more money than McCain was because MANY donors gave him small amounts. Many of these donors continued to contribute, $50 at a time as they could. More people were willing to give Obama money than were willing to give to McCain, so Obama had much more money.

But even though McCain has accepted public financing, this doesn't REALLY limit the amount of money he can spend. His personal campaign has its limit, but the Republican National Comitte can still run ads on his behalf, and the RNC is not limited in how much money it can raise/spend. Beyond that, any independent organization can run ads supporting a candidate for President.

I prefer our system of campaign finance over ones with strict controls on spending, because in this situation, the candidate that more people are willing to give to is the candidate with more money. What's wrong with that?
« Last Edit: November 02, 2008, 08:00:48 pm by Jacobtm »Logged

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Jacobtm
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2008, 08:53:51 pm »

I guess what's wrong with it is that the candidate with the most support should get the most votes, not the most money.
Look at it this way.

Say I support candidate X and I want to help get him elected. Is it OK if I talk to my neighbors and encourage them to vote for X?
Is it OK if I spend ALOT of time doing this, even meeting strangers and encouraging them to vote for X?
What if I wanted to buy the supplies necessary to craft signs, t-shirts, buttons, stickers etc. showing my support for my candidate?
If some of my friends/neighbors can't drive and live far away from a polling place, would it be OK for me to spend election day driving everyone like this to and from the polls to help them vote?

Would any of that be wrong? I don't think so.

But let's say that I live in a non-competitive state. It doesn't matter what I do in NY, because NY's electoral votes are going for the Democrat anyway, and candidate X has no shot here. I want to help, but I can't just move to a competitive state for the election season.

Or maybe I'm incredibly busy at work/school. I would love to take time to do everything related to getting out the vote, but I just don't have the free time.

But I do have money.

So I donate money to candidate X, and his campaign uses that money to do all the same things I would do on my own. It costs money to print yard signs. It costs money to hire people to go around their neighborhoods and encourage people to get out and vote. It costs money to get people to stand outside all day and encourage unregistered voters to register. It costs money to do everything a campaign needs to do to win.

So if volunteering your time is OK, but you don't have time or the ability to volunteer, what is wrong with enabling others to volunteer so that your will can still be expressed?

Really, volunteering and giving away money are the same thing. Usually you work for a salary, but in the case of volunteering, you work for free, you forfeit the money you could've made because your candidate is more important to you. In the case of donating, instead of sacrificing potential earnings, you're just sacrificing realized earnings. Both is a free gift to your candidate.

And even if candidates' spending was capped, Obama would still have a huge advantage over McCain in this election because of the extra enthusiasm of his volunteers. Obama has WAY more volunteers operating out of WAY more field offices than McCain does. Take the money out of it, and McCain STILL is disadvantaged because Obama's volunteer force dwarfs his.

So then, for fairness' sake, should volunteering be regulated? Should each campaign be capped in the number of volunteers they can have? Should the state appoint x number of workers to each campaign and limit the volunteering activity of anyone else?

« Last Edit: November 02, 2008, 09:00:50 pm by Jacobtm »Logged

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Jacobtm
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2008, 11:15:55 pm »

Money just doesn't buy the election. 
But it certainly does help, and it's a positive thing that candidates who appeal to many voters are rewarded with extra money to make campaigning that much more effective.
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