Over $315 million – that’s the amount of money raised by presidential candidates for the 2012 election cycle as of January 31, 2012. In addition, over $51 million had already been cultivated by “super PACs” (Political Action Committees) to influence the presidential primary elections. With 9 months left to go before the U.S. presidential election in November 2012, it had become crystal clear that the bank accounts of the campaigns were destined to swell beyond the imagination – long before the next President of the United States was to be installed.
There are no longer any limits on fundraising and spending by the super PACs, due to the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010. As a result, the super PAC organizations can essentially create “trust funds” for the candidates of their choice.
Super PACs are spearheading intense campaigns unfettered by the campaign contribution and spending limits that the candidates themselves must adhere to. If candidates engaged in the exact same kind of campaign fundraising and spending, they would be subject to prosecution under the law.
By January 2012 alone, super PACS had spent over $28 million to try to control the outcome of the early primary elections. During that same month, Mitt Romney spent over $18 million, while the super PAC operated by his former aides spent $14 million. Meanwhile President Obama accelerated his fundraising and increased campaign funds raised so far to a total of over $136 million.
Ironically, this vast amount of money being solicited and spent has not resulted in a more informed conversation about the positions, programs, actual viable solutions, and strengths that would allow us to judge the fitness and readiness of each of the candidates to represent the country.
Instead, it has led to a series of media funded “debates” that have the graphic and verbal aura of an unfortunate addition to the reality show circuit. There is an increasing level of “trash talking” that really isn’t worthy of recycling – it would be better for the environment to dispatch it to an incinerator where the toxins could be filtered out and dispersed.
While the candidates stand at their podiums, and pontificate, any semblance of proactive action to implement real solutions has once again ground to a standstill in the United States. Meanwhile, a vast majority of the media, candidates, and elected officials appear to be on a mutual mission to divert the public’s attention to the sideshow of the campaigns, rather than the issue of real productivity, and solutions to the nation’s pressing daily challenges.
It is an unfortunate, stultifying election cycle occurrence. Obsessive and redundant media coverage regurgitates variations of the same conversations again, and again in “news studios” which are increasingly starting to resemble slick entertainment shows with flashy sets, graphics, and pronouncements that are often disproved by the time the next primary rolls around.
The critical burning question is: How can the candidates become relevant to the American people?
The solution is that actions speak. We, at Expand or Contract (?) are offering a framework within which the candidates must demonstrate concretely how they will not only enact solutions in the future if elected, but more importantly, implement actual solutions right now, by putting their money where their mouths are.
The proposal is this: What if the 99% and 1% actually join together and compel every candidate to take 50% of their campaign funds, and immediately start funding programs that they feel are essential to the health and growth of the United States. Let’s call it a “Trust Fund for the American People.”
Just like medical students who must invest in a residency to demonstrate they have the skill to manage the health of their patients, and similar to how law students must engage in mock trials to show that they have the gravitas to function effectively in highly bureaucratic settings – let’s require the candidates to engage in the critical thinking and action that is required to save their “patients and clients” – the American people.
By way of example, Meg Whitman, former CEO of EBay spent $177 million to run for Governor of California in the 2010 election. It was the most expensive campaign in California history. She outspent her victorious opponent, Governor-elect Jerry Brown $1 to every 25 cents. Whitman dedicated $144 million of her own fortune, and still failed to win the hearts, minds, and votes of the electorate in the process. Meanwhile the schools, roads, access to medical services, income, and job opportunities in California were all crumbling like buildings in the wake of a devastating earthquake. This scenario sounds eerily similar to the 2012 United States Presidential Campaign.
Imagine if 50% of Meg Whitman’s $177 million, and 50% of Jerry Brown’s $36 million in campaign funds were designated to focus on the programs and solutions of their respective choices. That’s over $106 million actually allocated to solving real and present problems. It would have presented a clear choice of precisely what each candidate genuinely stood for, and a demonstration of their abilities to make meaningful use of their available “budgets.”
Shouldn’t this be the actual litmus test for whom you would like to elect to positions of such monumental importance?
So, let’s start with the 2012 U.S. Presidential Candidates. Actions Speak. Take the poll at www.expandorcontract.com. Tweet, Facebook, email, mail, and call to and about the candidate of your choice, and be explicit: “Invest your money where your mouth is.” Do the same with the rest of the mainstream media to get them engaged in the “Trust Fund for the American People.” While you’re at it, don’t let members of Congress off the hook. Remind them that the United States is “for the people, by the people.”
To read related articles at EorC, click to:
Positive Politk: “12-Step Program for Congress”
Mind-Body Connection: “Why Congress Should Apologize to the American People”
Evolutionary Leaders: “A Call to Conscience – There Is Nothing Wrong with Power If Power Is Used Correctly”
Positive Politk: “2012: A Once in a Decade for Women Aspiring to Get Elected”