Tag Archives: campaigns

Campaign Without End

3 Oct

The process to elect a nominee and President in the United States is ridiculous, expensive, ineffective, and flawed. Because the process now takes well over a year, the cost to run such a race is astronomically wasteful, and thanks to a lowest-common denominator mass media in America, it comes down to a horserace and Honey Boo-Boo politicking. 

Our neighbors in Canada follow the British parliamentary model. In federal elections, they vote for a member of parliament – the parties release their platforms through slick manifestos, and you elect people based on the policies they promote more than the personalities. The party that wins the most seats gets to name the Prime Minister, or head of government (the Queen, through her Governor-General, remains the head of state).  In the US, the head of state and of government are unified. 

Canada recently made a change whereby a particular government must submit to an election at least every four years (it used to be a maximum of five). PMs may ask the Governor-General to call a new federal election on demand. MPs may call for a no-confidence motion, and if successful, a new election is called. 

The minimum time for a federal election is 36 days. The longest one ever conducted was less than 80 days long. Spending on elections is strictly regulated by statute. 

As you watch the tightly scripted, wildly predictable debate tonight between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, think about how there just might be a better way to go about this. 

Quality Control

31 Oct

I know a lot of people are not pleased at all with the Mesi and Delano candidacies. But the alternatives are just as mediocre, if not worse (depending on your point-of-view). People like Ranzenhofer and Stachowski, who have been in the political arena for multiple decades and have the connections and contacts to raise the money needed to run a race have a huge advantage. Stachowski is a full-time State Senator and doesn’t have to be in Albany right now. Ranzenhofer is self-employed and can take whatever time he thinks he needs to campaign. Delano can run on his name recognition, and the fact that he’s been suspended and doesn’t have a day job. Mesi, too, is self-employed and has all the time in the world to canvass and campaign.

People like Chris Lee, Dan Humiston, and Jane Corwin are independently super-wealthy and don’t hold down regular jobs. (Humiston is, still, employed by his company – but Corwin and Lee sold their companies for megabucks). They, too, have not only the time, but the resources to run a costly race.

All of these people claim to know and understand the regular person’s problems. Do they? Do the super-wealthy know what the middle class faces each day? Does Chris Lee, with $400 million in the bank, understand the concerns of a farmer in Livingston county or a single mother earning $40,000 living in Williamsville?

It’s extraordinarily difficult to run a political campaign and be a regular, average person. It’s very hard to have to show up to work every day from 8 – 5 and raise money or go door-to-door. It’s hard to be a no-name candidate and go out and get your name out there if you’re not already bankrolled in a big way.

The system is stacked against regular people who actually understand people’s problems, and is stacked in favor of the wealthy, the people already in office, and people blessed to have some sort of flexible schedule during the week.

When we complain about the lack of quality candidates, we need to examine what, if anything, can be done to make it easier for you or your neighbor to run for office in a competitive manner.