Why the Presidential Elections are Broken

Its actually very simple: money

Not only is that why they are broken, but it is also the main issue of this election. People can ask questions all they want about health care, Iraq, immigration, taxes, etc. It doesn’t matter though. Candidates won’t even stay around long enough to answer them if they don’t have money. Some are already expected to drop out because of the money issue. These drop-outs are not poor either. Take a look at this, pulled from Wikipedia and fully referenced:

The reported cost of campaigning for President has increased significantly in recent years. One source reported that if the costs for both Democratic and Republican campaigns are added together (for the Presidential primary election, general election, and the political conventions) the costs have more than doubled in only eight years ($448.9 million in 1996, $649.5 million in 2000, and $1.01 billion in 2004). In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner estimated that the 2008 race will be a “$1 billion election,” and that to be “taken seriously,” a candidate will need to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007. [6]

That’s right. To win the election and become president you have to earn a large fortune.

Problem: Bad Qualities

The primary skill our president needs to have is the ability to get money. What kind of qualities does that breed? Does it accurately reflect what qualities they will need in office?

I don’t think so.

The ability to make good moral decisions. The ability to negotiate complex issues that can benefit the most people. The ability to work with world leaders, generals, lobbyists, and the average American. These are the abilities that are required in office.

When the elections become about money, you lose those qualities. They become second tier qualities.

Just look at the last 2 presidents. Each one faced major scandals and issues. Almost all relating to bad moral choices. Now, I am not saying that being president is easy. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, I mean every president ages quickly and often has serious health problems. But, they get million dollar budgets, large staffs, and plenty of information. With all of that I think they all have no excuse for any of these scandals and problems.

Issue: Cutthroat

In this intense race to make 100 million, candidates are forced to become evil. They have to. Making money is not about baking cookies, working hard, and doing what is right. It is about making money. Nothing else stands in the way, everything else is secondary.

Guess what happens to candidates who “do the right thing” in politics? They win respect, but they don’t win elections.

Issue: We all lose

Does anyone actually benefit from this accelerating spending pattern. The average American is feeling more disconnected, leaderless, and disenfranchised than ever. Big donors might, but even they lose influence when so many big donors are required for each candidate. Politicians themselves, they lose the most. They lose their time, families, and morality.

The honest truth is that the road to the presidency is not one of democracy, morality, or leadership.

Resolution: Cap Election Spending

Democratize the process. Put a cap on spending that is low enough to allow more candidates to participate. Open up the leadership pool beyond the most famous, richest, and most “networked”.

Find a number that is fair for both big interests and the average American. Make candidates choose which check to accept and stop forcing them to accept all checks. Make it a process that allows the candidate to stop fund raising at some point and start discussing issues.

All of this is reasonable and possible.

Please, join me in this thought by signing your name on this virtual petition. All you have to do is read the paragraph and then sign your name if you agree. If you need help editing the page, please leave a comment about your question.

With enough signatures I will submit this petition to our elected officials and news outlets. Thank you.

3 replies on “Why the Presidential Elections are Broken”

  1. steve, in order to drive more traffic to your blog and to virtualpetition.org, you need to be an active commenter on other blogs.

    *it helps to comment on blogs that have a high readership as well as being one of the first people to comment to a post.

  2. Thanks for the tip Amy. My first step was to ask the John Edwards campaign to participate. I went there first because he is one of the 5 candidates to opt into the Pres Election Fund. Which offers public funds to candidates who follow certain guidelines, including spending limits.

    I think its ironic that i received a message from his campaign the next day (without signing up for messages) asking for a campaign contribution. Let’s you know the current state of our elections…

    I hope this is not their response to the petition…

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