The Death of Ideas

Our political arena is changing quickly. It is, to put it kindly, a mutation of what it used to be. Campaigns used to be run on ideas. They used to be run on the enthusiasm of voters who wanted to change the world, to make it a better place. But those campaigns are history. Today, money is the real game-changer. It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are. What matters is whether you can afford to spend millions of dollars to make sure that everyone knows your message.

Even as a conservative, this sickens me. I understand that campaigns need money, and that the world is becoming more expensive every day. What I don’t understand is how our system can justify spending billions of dollars on a single Presidential race while homeless veterans sleep underneath bridges in the dead of winter. In May, a mere 31 days, the Democrats and Republicans raised a combined $136.8 million. That amount of money could feed every homeless person in America for a month, with dollars to spare.

Don’t get me wrong. I won’t tell people what they can and cannot do with their own money. It’s every individual person’s choice to spend whatever they see fit. However, it’s a shame that men like Sheldon Adelson think spending $100 million on political elections is the best use of their money. There are millions of people mired in poverty in America and throughout the world. Wouldn’t his 7-digit donations be better spent on ending homelessness or human trafficking?

I not only believe that these millions could be put to better use, but I also think that the massive amount of money required to run a successful campaign is scaring away strong political candidates. There are a good number of people out there who would make fantastic Senators and Representatives, but can’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it takes to win a Congressional race.

The combined forces of waste and candidate elimination disgust me. Why do we have to spend so much money on these races? Is it because our candidates are so bad that they need to spend millions to cover up obvious faults? I wish we could return to the days when campaigns were fought on ideas, not fundraising power, and run by real people who wanted real change.

Alas, I fear that this is the way politics must fall. We shouldn’t legislate how much money a certain group can give to a political candidate. America is a free country, and I believe that every person has the right to spend their money in whatever way they see fit. Nevertheless, I bemoan the fall that our system has endured. Someday, I hope we’ll change. For now, though, we can merely hope that those with the most money also have the best ideas.