Thursday, July 13, 2006

Money and politics preview

Tonight I'm doing Policy and A Pint at the Varsity Theater. The subject is money and campaigns. I think my pals at the Current couldn't get a guest when they were setting this up, so they asked me. Then they found some good ones (including former Wellstone campaign manager Jeff Blodgett) and the're too nice to say, "never mind, Bob." That's my story, anyway.

So while I've been working on the plane construction project this week (lots of news there, just haven't had time to write it), I've been thinking about how money fuel politics.

But what fuels money? I think it's the laziness of voters. If voters really took the time to educate themselves, the effect of money -- at least for ads -- would be lessened. As it is, people often make their choices on stupid premises. A few years ago, they elected Sharon Anderson in the primary for attorney general. Why? They didn't know anything about her but they figured, "if her name is Anderson, she must be OK." They were wrong.

I think a lot of politicians blame money for their own failings. Mark Dayton isn't running again because, he says, he doesn't want to go through the nonsense of raising money. Fine, then don't raise money. Run a cheap campaign if you think your ideas are so important. Cripes, you're a sitting freakin' U.S. senator, you'll get coverage just because of who you are. Then there's that franking privilege stuff with the free political ads disguised as "constituent newsletters." No, I think Mark Dayton didn't want to be a U.S. senator anymore.

This week, Ford Bell dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate. Why? He said he realized he couldn't raise enough money. Maybe true. I don't think he was going to win anyway. But he took it this far, what's two more months? Don't spend the money if you think your ideas are wroth getting out there.

There is something that's more important than money when it comes to elections. Incumbency. More on that later.

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