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An Obscenity: The $2 Billion Presidential Race

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Now that Mitt Romney has named Congressman Paul Ryan to his ticket the presidential race enters its final stages. Many can't wait for it to end. I hear from both my Democratic and Republican friends that they think spending over $2 billion on the presidential campaign is obscene.

I understand the costs of running a campaign and that some of the money goes back into the economy. But it appears that TV stations and consultants make most of it. There are thousands of workers with low-paying part-time jobs and no benefits working for each campaign while the makers of posters, bumper stickers, and American flag manufacturers are getting rich. There is the endless supply of tchotchkes (key rings, coffee mugs etc.) many made in China, that each campaign sells.

There has to be a better way to run for president and clearly a better way to spend $2 billion. We get daily reminders that this is only the cost of the presidential campaign. As a good Democrat I am inundated with hundreds of email requests for money from campaign committees and candidates running for every office from local commissions and councils to United States Senate each asking for money. Some as little as $3 others up to $40,000 for a dinner. My Republican friends are seeing the same thing.

Recently some friends got together and came up with a great idea. They would develop an app that could pair a Republican and a Democrat who were considering making equal contributions to candidates running against each other. They would agree to not make the contribution and a letter would be sent to the candidates on both sides saying, "I am supportive of your campaign and have reached an agreement with a friend who supports your opponent. We had each decided to donate $1,000 to your campaigns but instead we have pledged that neither one of us will make the donation and therefore cancel each other out. I wish you the best of luck in your race!"

In the era of the 'Citizens United' case when the Supreme Court decided that unlimited money in campaigns is legitimate it will be difficult to stem this tide. But somehow we need to look at the law and urge Congress to find a way to stop this insanity.

In the spirit of openness I admit I am as guilty as the next person. I have arranged a fundraiser for Obama, worked on others and written asking people to 'dig deep' and contribute everything they can afford. I have done this because as obscene as I think the money race is I recognize that neither side can afford to let the other have a huge cash advantage.

But at some point this all has to stop! The daily barrage of emails from the candidates and their surrogates begging and pleading for money seems to demean the candidates and obscure rather than heighten their message. All of those running for office from President down to county commissioner seem to be using much of the money they raise to engage in mudslinging rather than talking about what they want to do when elected. There is a fear, maybe well founded, that being open and honest with the American people won't lead to winning the election.

Considering the gridlock in Congress and in some cases a basic lack of civility, the way campaigns are run today isn't surprising. I am not naïve and understand that for years we have seen dirty campaigns and over the top messages from Lyndon Johnson's daisy ad against Barry Goldwater in 1964 to George H.W. Bush's Willie Horton ad against Michael Dukakis in 1988. But we really must try to do better because the American people deserve better.

As a Democrat I hope that President Obama will win this election because I believe his vision for the future is the better one. I would hope that if elected Obama will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn the 'Citizens United' case. But whoever wins it is crucial that they appoint a commission of respected elder statesmen/women from both parties to begin the discussion on how to end the obscenity of $2 billion presidential elections. It won't happen overnight and we know the 2016 election which will begin on November 7 if it hasn't already could be the $3 billion election. The discussion on how to end this ever escalating cost needs to start now!

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Obama Romney
332 206
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