What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: traskblueribbon
Imagine, if you will, a political campaign being run without any money. Far-fetched, I know, but consider it for a moment: individuals volunteering their time to the candidates they support, donating resources for signs and other materials, and going door to door to connect with people and pitch their favorite candidate’s platform.
In an election cycle that has brought in almost $1.5 billion total, one can only wonder what this money could do if spent on things other than commercials, signs, and airplanes. Campbell Brown of CNN has suggested that the current presidential candidates stop using their money on negative campaign ads (which have little to no effect) and donate to food banks that are in dire need of supplies.
I’m not sure what the campaign finance laws (thanks, McCain-Feingold!) are regarding using campaign money for such purposes, but regardless of the (horrible) laws on the books, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Here’s a better idea: get rid of the money to begin with. I’m not talking about passing a law to ban donations, but about individuals who refuse to be bought. Money isn’t an inherently evil thing, but when it becomes the main driving force by which an individual is able to gather support, make his own message heard, and push his opponent(s) to the fringe of public spotlight, then its effects are destructive.
A campaign without cash would be an interesting thing, to be sure. Perhaps only then would we see politicians have to explain the planks of their campaign platform in full sentences, rather than thirty-second sound bytes. Maybe it would entice people to do their homework more, rather than being swayed by observing who has received the most financial support, who is able to plaster cities with more signs, and who is able to purchase more air time.
Money has corroded the political process into an unrecognizable pulp devoid of honesty and principle. Its absence would alleviate many of the problems associated with modern campaigns, and make candidates actually work for their votes, rather than spending their time putting on makeup, getting their smile just right, and practicing their most important line: “I’m ____, and I approve this message”.