Patty Dineen

The view from here

The problem with Barack Obama’s hyper-fundraising

Barack Obama’s campaign has demonstrated an amazing ability to raise money–much of it from people making small contributions.   The amounts are impressive; $150 million in one recent month alone.  It gives Obama a powerful advantage.  But even if he is your choice to be the next president; even if you are convinced that he is the one who can make progress on resolving some serious and complicated problems, there are some reasons to be worried about this kind of fundraising-on-steroids.

The first is the precedent that this sets for future presidential candidates, and for the public’s expectations.  If we come to associate a winning candidate with the kind of saturation media messages that only vast amounts of money can buy, anything less may give the perception of a lesser candidate, instead of just a less-wealthy candidate.  Should win-making media access in a political race that has the public’s interest at stake cost so much?  Especially when the airwaves after all–although it’s hard to still believe this– do belong to the public.

But the second, and more important reason, is the disadvantage that it creates for the many other campaigns currently being waged; local, state and national.  The historic money-attracting properties of the Obama campaign have sucked up much of the money and political oxygen that otherwise would have been shared with candidates running for other, also critically important offices.  A first-class and capable president must have first-class and capable officeholders to work with in order to make the most progress.  The presidential election is simply not the only contest going on.  To look at the fund-raising numbers, you might think it is.


Written by dineenp

October 23, 2008 at 9:22 pm

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