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Retaining Positions Even When They Hurt You

Thursday, April 10, 2008
It looks like I'm all alone on this one. While other liberal bloggers are giddy at the prospect of Barack Obama opting out of the public financing system in the general election, I'm pretty uncomfortable with it. Oh, I understand the tactical advantages - Obama will be able to outspend the cash-strapped McCain by 2 or 3 to 1. But I've always been a supporter of public financed campaigns, and it seems hypocritical to abandon that position for the sake of a temporary convenience.

Public financing is supposed to level the playing field for all candidates, so that it's campaigning and issues rather than fundraising that determines elections. It doesn't really matter if my candidate is benefiting from the imbalance - it's still wrong.

You don't find my argument from principle convincing? Well how about this one? Do you really think that Democrats will enjoy a permanent small donor advantage? And below the presidential level, what is the likelihood that candidates without big wallets or famous names will be able to raise this kind of cash? It's a disastrous mistake to assume that other candidates will be able to do what Obama has done. In many ways he's a sui generis candidate.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:25 AM
  • Agreed. Democrats have been arguing for public financing from a position of weakness for decades. So its been considered a pity plea.

    We have an opportunity to show strength of conviction from a position of strength.

    Further - its a consistent thread of Obama's message. And you're right - when if not now, with this particular politician, at this time, with this message.

    We may see the ship sail on (IMHO) the most defining item of governmental reform - for another 20 odd years. It would take a similar situation or a crisis/collapse of the political framework. Ill let you decide which will come first.

    By Blogger Brian, at 11:35 AM  
  • Sorry, Dr. Arbitrista, but you are completely wrong on this issue. Principles should be reserved for public policy and philosophy, not for political campaigns. Campaigns waged using fixed principles are usually losing campaigns because Candidate X decides that he is NOT willing to do what Candidate Y does, even if what Candidate Y does works. Campaigns should be stictly about what works or not.

    Obama is a sui generis candidate, and that is exactly why we must assume that other candidates will be able to do what Obama does. If Obama manages to win the presidency with his small-dollar fundraising methods through the Internet and training of community organizers, then other candidates who come after him will use the exact same web site to tap the exact same donors in his name. We usually associate that practice with a church, but it works just as well with a successful political campaign. I, for example, plan to use his web site and donors if I run for office in 10-20 years. He is creating the 21st century model campaign, and all of his disciples who follow his principles of community organization will receive the saame level of financial and political support.

    By Blogger Marriah, at 12:06 AM  
  • "Principles should be reserved for public policy and philosophy, not for political campaigns."

    Hey, when did Karl Rove start commenting on my blog?

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 8:39 AM  
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