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Behind the Curtain

Friday, February 23, 2007
Tom Vilsack has dropped out of the Presidential race - a year before the first primary. Why? Because he couldn't raise enough money. Why? Because he couldn't get any media attention. Why? Because he couldn't raise enough money. Why? Because he couldn't get any media attention. Why? Because....oh, you get the point.

So in case anybody hasn't figured it out by now, our elections are effectively dominated by big money contributors and washington journalists who get to narrow the field down to 1 and a half for each party (a frontrunner and challenger) before a single vote is cast by any of the 1% of Americans who get to vote in a primary state that matters. Then the 1% of Americans who are swing voters in swing states get to pick the President.

I shouldn't complain, I suppose. It's better than the elections for Congress - where we don't get any meaningful ability to participate at all.

I just love our wonderful democracy, don't you?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:18 PM
  • I agree that there is a problem, but you have misidentified the source. There is, unfortunately, too much talk of the "invisible primary", which political scientists identify as the ability to line up donors who will support you (not the big money donors, but the thousands of small donors). If a candidate wins this "invisible primary", the media crowns that candidate the winner before the votes are counted. The voters usually disagree with the winner of the invisible primary.

    The problem is that the candidates care more about the media than they do about the voters. A genuine candidate will wait. A candidate who quits early is just a wimp who doesn't deserve to be elected president.

    By Blogger Marriah, at 10:15 PM  
  • But how does one speak to the voters without money or public attention? Communicate via telepathy?

    By Blogger Arbitrista (formerly Publius), at 8:23 AM  
  • We used to call this "retail politics". A candidate speaks to the voters by getting organizers to set up campaign events, meet-ups, town hall meetings, etc. You don't really need the money to advertise at this point because you can simply post a video online.

    The media have only as much power as candidates give them. Live by the media, die by the media. If candidates are serious about running for public office, they will run even if they have no money or media attention. In the end, the money and the media attention will go to the candidates with the most votes in the primary.

    The problem with today's wimps (Warner, Bayh, Vilsack) is that they have bought the lie about the "invisible primary". At this point in 2003, Howard Dean had won the invisible primary, but Kerry and Edwards received the most votes in Iowa in 2004. It's a pity today's candidates don't realize that votes matter, not money or media attention.

    By Blogger Marriah, at 10:33 AM  
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