June 13, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if they only could put their fundraising abilities to work for our country in its time of budget cutting? According to a recent AP report the Republican party has raised nearly $90 million for this year's crop of congressional candidates. President Bush and V.P. Chenney are the top draws for fundraisers as the party currently is blowing the doors off the opposition.

Apparently not as many people are willing to get the checkbook out to pay to have dinner with the top draw on the Democrat's fundraising circuit, good ole Bill Clinton. Then again the folks who won't to sit down over prime rib and lobster and here about tax cuts and securing their fortunes likely don't mind picking up the check in order to say they shook the president's hand. Clinton's crowd on the other hand, is more likely to have the munchies and want to order a pizza after the fraternity party. Once they've paid for the kegs of beer and the disturbing the peace tickets there apparently just isn't much left to donate to the Democratic Party.

While I poke fun at the fundraisers themselves, it's the idea behind the whole deal that has me scratching my head. If politicians can raise $90 million in a year for an election, why can't they come up with similar packages to fund needed transportation, education and health care initiatives? We can't afford to pay social security benefits or build new highways but these folks can basically sell their political power for donations to help them win, or maintain a job. And that's what it is all about. If the NRA buys a couple hundred plates of food at your fundraiser, I suspect your no vote on any gun control issues is a given. If President Bush comes to your gathering and helps draw in the crowd to fill your coffers, you likely won't flinch when he says he needs your vote on an issue.

The easy solution is to place a spending cap on political fundraising. Level the playing field, just like they should do in Major League Baseball. No one likes to see the Yankees buy their way to the World Series every year, so why should we be happy to watch the highest spending campaign win the office. To make things better, I suggest allowing these suckers, I mean donors, to continue to make contributions to their favorite candidate. Once they reach their cap, the rest of the funds should go toward fixing the most unsafe road in the nation each year (based on traffic fatalities - likely that Highway 61 would rank up there).

Wouldn't this be great? We wouldn't be bombarded by television ads filled with mudslinging and high dollar special effects. All we need to know is how they stand on the issues, but that's usually the last thing they tell us. A person could actually watch a little tube in November and squeeze a show or two in between the campaigning. With limited airtime these guys would have to get to the point, quickly. What's not to like about this? Worst case scenario, no one would donate to campaigns. They way I look at, what do we have to lose? It's a win-win situation.

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