Monday, May 24, 2004

Gaming the System

On Friday, Senator Kerry's campaign floated the idea that he might not 'officially' accept the nomination at the Democratic Convention this July - he would accept the nomination a month or so later, around the time of the Republican Convention.

The logic behind this idea goes something like this - Kerry and President Bush both stand to get about $75 million in public funds once they accept their party's nomination. To qualify for the public money, they have to agree to use only that money for the period from their nomination up to the election.

Here's the catch: the Democratic Convention is at the end of July. The Republican Convention is at the end of August. As is, Kerry has to make his $75 million 'stretch' for a month longer than Bush, giving Bush a decided advantage. But, if Kerry doesn't accept the nomination until later, he and Bush can have roughly the same amount of money to spend over the same amount of time. Brilliant!

What the heck is going on? This is the system we use to elect the President of the United States? Our elected officials have turned this into a contest of appointment books, not ideas. Everybody pull out your Blackberrys - we'll out-schedule 'em!

C'mon. Public funding is a great idea, but will work only if candidates have to opt in for both primary and general election.

The wacky system we have just goes to show you that the folks in Washington who are supposed to be working for the American people are napping on the job. They obviously think they can get away with designing a mediocre system for what is the most important process of democracy - choosing our leaders. And they'll keep on thinking they can get away with it until regular Americans let them know at the polls that we deserve better than this.

Let's just hope they can make time for us in their schedule.

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