Monday, January 17, 2005
As Jason Ryan reports in The Beaufort Gazzette, two of the three candidates in the recent Beaufort mayoral election reached into their own pockets for a portion of their campaign funds, each to the tune of around $9,000. The third candidate, Peter White, spent $300. Total. According to White:
"I would presume getting a name out, going door to door, and a
mailing explaining your platform should be enough."
Maybe it should be, but apparently not when your opponents are spending a combined $60,000 on signs, television commercials, polls, newspaper ads, radio spots, a Web site, campaign consultants and mailing.
When asked if his deep pockets helped his candidacy, the winning candidate Mayor Bill Rauch laughed off the possibility of campaign finance reform, saying "I don't know that it's unfair, but it's certainly an advantage."
When rich donors dominate our elections with contributions that 99% of us can't afford, they gain an advantage over the rest of us in determining who represents us in public office. When rich candidates dominate our elections with loans to their campaigns that 99% of us can't afford, they gain an advantage over other candidates in the same fashion. Neither is fair, neither is democratic, neither is in keeping with the spirit of this country (at least as I learned it in grade school in Kansas.)
To the extent that money and politics mix, a candidate's spending ability should correlate with popular support for that candidate's ideas, not with whether they hit the Lotto or their Aunt Mavis made a bundle on utility stocks or even if the candidate made a bundle on their own. Maybe next time 'round the folks in Beaufort will elect a candidate who sees it the same way.
Now that would be fair.