Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, June 20, 2008

A New Era

Sen. Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing for his campaign--the first candidate ever to do so for the general election--is more than just an astute political move: It signals a new era in American politics. Pundits are falling over themselves to guess how much more Obama might be able to raise on his own--Is it $300 million? Could it be $500 million?--while Sen. John McCain will be "limited" to the $80 million public financing provides.

Who would have imagined it would be the Democrats who would be able to raise so much more money than the Republicans? Obama raised over $250 million during the primary campaign, the vast majority of which was from online donations: he raised a quarter of a billion dollars without lobbyists, political action committees, or thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraisers. Sen. Hillary Clinton, who had been a master at traditional fundraising, was able (belatedly) to follow Obama's lead and switch over--her final total was also over $200 million, and close to half of that was from the internet. Even Ron Paul raised $6 million in a single day. Meanwhile McCain--who has access to the same series of tubes as everyone else--is struggling.

For the first time, public enthusiasm has become the real currency, not big money corporate lobbyists. True campaign finance reform has finally arrived. This is a triumph of the bottom-up, free-market approach. By providing instant transactions with minimal effort and offering near-universal availability in the home or local library, the internet has created an efficient political market in which everyone can participate. The internet has created a level playing field for candidates--a wide open forum where the public can vote with their Visas and Mastercards.

This idea is reaching down to all levels of government. Websites like ActBlue have raised tens of millions of dollars for local and Congressional candidates around the country, all without a single traditional political finance program. Ron Paul's surprising success suggests that independent and third-party candidates may be able to leverage this in the future, breaking the duopoly that has ruled American politics since the Civil War. Three cheers for Tim Berners-Lee, the most unlikely revolutionary in history.


Dustin said...

This last line from the article really spoke to me:

"Republicans keep calling him naïve. But naïve is the last word I’d use to describe Barack Obama. He’s the most effectively political creature we’ve seen in decades. Even Bill Clinton wasn’t smart enough to succeed in politics by pretending to renounce politics."

The Law Talking Guy said...

McCain will have private groups do his dirty work for him. There's no shortage of cash on the right. Never think that.

David Brooks is mostly an ass, but he's right that Barack Obama is way smart. That's his best quality. I think he is the smartest person to run for President since Abraham Lincoln.

History Buff said...

The democrat(Rick Noriega) that is running against Junior Senator Cornyn just raised $20,000 ($50,000 goal) over his goal on the internet. Before this he was a virtual unknown. Oh and it happened while he was doing his national guard service.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes, this is a big deal. By broadening the base of the funding sources, this will change who politicians feel accountable to. I would hope that this will mean that the gruops they feel accountable to will look more like the people who vote for them and less like the membership committee of your local country club.

I disagree with Dr. S's speculation that this will encourage third party viability. Third parties are not held out of the system by lack of funding. The electoral system itself is sufficient to keep them out. This effect of the single member district electoral system is very well documented (at the local level). Even if they had more money (witness Ross Perot's presidential runs), they would stand little to no chance of success.

Actually, I think that this will have the effect of decentralizing the two main parties' funding distribution systems. That would enable local politicians to resist pressures from their leaders to conform to a strictly defined party line. That, in turn, would allow individual politicians within those parties to act as political entrapaneurs and exploit untapped constituencies.

So instead of helping third parties develop, this could help the two main parties to coopt third party movements before they get going. We may have seen one attempt at this already this year. Ron Paul ran as a Republican but has run as a Libertarian before and from the Paulista's I've talked to, his appeal was mainly to the "libertarian" wing of the party.

Raised By Republicans said...

"smartest person to run for President since Abraham Lincoln"

Interesting question to raise at this point:

Do we think being smart gives you an advantage in being a good President?

History Buff said...

I don't know, have heard that leadership is more intuitive than something that works well with a lot of thinking. Perhaps Obama is an intuitive leader though. He certainly seems to be making the right moves most of the time.

Bush has always come across as a bumbling idiot, but I think that is mostly and act. Maybe he thinks if he appears simple people will trust him more and he can get away without revealing much. Guess what--didn't work.

Obama is certainly a breath of fresh air.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Being smart always helps, like being pretty.

Raised By Republicans said...

I suspect that intelligence accentuates your other qualities. Nixon was so devastating because he was both a crook and smart.

I think Reagan was very intuiative and probably meant well after a fashion but wasn't very smart

I think G.H.W. Bush is smart but not very inuitive. I don't think he really ever "got" people.

I think G.W. Bush is a complete and total moran who THINKS he's smart - a very dangerous combination.

Carter is a certified genious but I think he was very unlucky - the Iranian revolution and the recession were largely things that got dumped in his lap.

I don't know what to make of Bill Clinton. He's certainly intelligent but I think his greatest talent is his ability to read others. It was his apparent loss of that talent in the recent campaign that so baffled me.

Pombat said...

Have any of you read any Howard Gardner, specifically his theory of multiple intelligences?
( for starters)

Spotted H introduced me to the theory, and it's quite fascinating (especially as it aligns with my beliefs on intelligence) - he doesn't believe in just one 'intelligence', the cliched easily-measured one that we all get imprinted by in school, but of many - he lists a mathematical/logical intelligence, a musical one, an interpersonal as well as an intrapersonal, verbal/linguistic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic and a couple of others I think.

Obama is clearly high on the interpersonal, I'd guess he'd have to be high on the intrapersonal as well (interestingly, this spell-checker doesn't recognise intrapersonal), and his verbal/linguistic skills are definitely way up there.

Of course what intelligences a person possesses says nothing about what their morals will be, i.e. whether they'll be a crook or not, but Obama seems like a good guy thus far.

Raised By Republicans said...

I have a friend who's mother was Obama's 7th grade (I think, might have been 6th or 8th) teacher back in Hawaii. And she remembers him as "one of the smartest students I ever had."

I think LTG and Dr. S have a relative that is similarly connected to (and impressed by) Obama.