Which political party will spend the most money in the election season of 2008? If you come to an answer based upon stereotypes you would have to assume the big-spenders will be the "rich" fat-cat Republicans since they are the party of business and Wall Street. Wrong! Some analysts believe the Obama campaign, the DNC, and the 527s who favor Obama will spend more than $500 million before November 4, by far the most money ever spent in an attempt to win a U. S. election. (In 2000 $629 million was spent by both campaigns!)
I truly believe in campaign finance reform. I have believed this since the mid-1990s. Enron proved how badly we need it. Unions have abused campaign finances at will and now 527’s are the new loophole. I believe money is a major problem in American politics. It has corrupted both parties. I have said on this site before that the McCain-Feingold law missed solving the major problem because people found ways to get around it. New loopholes opened up whole new ways for campaigns to be financed. This is why both Republicans and Democrats opposed McCain-Feingold so strongly when it finally passed. (Cf. Citizen McCain by Elizabeth Drew for a fair and even-handed description of the events preceding the passage of this act in 2001-02.) And this is why it is so remarkable that it got passed by the Congress under the Bush administration, even with the threat of a presidential veto.
I find it remarkable, to say the least, that Senator Obama openly supported campaign finance reform and "promised" to accept the same money for the general election as his opponent. This was true until he saw just how much he could raise as his popularity rose to unbelievable heights. This is the same man who also says in The Audacity of Hope that a "townhall meeting" is the best way for voters to really hear the candidates and make an intelligent choice. But when offered a series of such events this summer he flatly said no, except of course for a July 4 evening that would have been watched by virtually no one. One has to guess that Senator Obama’s advisers realized that he would not do so well in these events so he changed his mind.
Two things we know for sure. 1. Barack Obama really didn’t mean what he said about townhall meetings. 2. He didn’t mean what he said about campaign money.
It makes me doubt what else he means or doesn’t mean. He is an appealing candidate with a great spirit and conveys hope to many Americans. But there has to be more than talk about hope to sustain hope. You have to back it up with the kind of action that shows you really believe the basic ideas that you put in your written political memoirs. Senator Obama’s appeal to the young has been declining in recent weeks. Could it be that they are beginning to see him as just like every other candidate when it comes down to it? The difference here is that he promised so much and appeared to be such a fresh new voice only three months ago. Now he sounds like every other candidate. We need national reformation. Only God knows how it can happen.