Thursday, June 19, 2008

Slight Disappointment in Obama

Well, Barack Obama today announced that he is not going to accept public campaign funding, in favor of raising his own money and eliminating spending limits on the campaign. In response, I'm going to prove that I am by no means a 100% jump-off-a-cliff Obama fan by going on a long-winded rant about it.

One of the reasons I originally became interested in Barack Obama was his stated interest in eliminating (or at least lessening) the corporate influence on politics. This involved, perhaps primarily, reworking how campaigns are run.

Now, I'm not blind; I know that the corporate influence will never be eliminated. However, I'm certain that the influence can be lessened to encourage politicians to make more independent decisions.

The first step in all of this is, of course, publicly-financed campaigns. I've spoken about this before (see second section, number 7). The idea is that campaigns are run with money that the public provides so that campaigners aren't indebted to corporate sponsors when they make it into office.

We have a system right now that (in my view) serves as a first step toward that goal, but isn't effective to a significant extent. Presidential candidates can accept millions of dollars of public financing for their campaigns, but in return for that, they can only spend that money between their party's nominating convention and the presidential election, usually around 3 months' time. The financing is paid for by the little check box on your taxes asking if you want to give $3 toward presidential campaigns.

The system, as Barack Obama pointed out during today's announcement, is very broken. The law puts no limits on what candidates can earn before their party's convention, and there are many backdoors that corporations can use to funnel money to campaigns despite the law. However, it is better than nothing, and I had hoped that Obama would take the public financing on that basis alone. With that said, that's not the only reason that I'm disappointed in the fact that Barack Obama chose to be the first major candidate not to take public financing since the law passed 32 years ago.

When I was first beginning to pay attention to Barack Obama and his potential campaign, there was a little-known news story that came out which suggested that representatives of Obama and McCain had gotten together and agreed that if they became their parties' nominees, then both the candidates would accept public financing in the interests of reducing corporate influence. Later on, and on several occasions, Barack Obama provided statements that he was interested in taking public financing for those same reasons, as long as his opponent did the same thing. But when it came right down to it, well, I feel a little let down by all of this.

But as dissappointing as this is, my support for Obama remains. This doesn't really compare to the differences I have with McCain. But I'll yak about those later.

Progress: 3.73%  Flight Time: 0:05:35

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