Archive for July 24th, 2003

A billion dollars for Dean, slight reprise

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My fist real experience of being a campaign donor came with the Gore
campaign.  I met Alan Solomont, a very very committed good
guy–now a major fundraiser for Kerry–on a plane.  We
talked.  A few weeks later he called me cold and asked for a very
large amount of money for Gore.  When I told him that I preferred
to give directly to causes like health care/AIDS and education and
development, rather than polititicians, he made the following argument:
“Jim, if you want to get money for those causes, look at the leverage a
campaign contribution gives.  Your relatively small dollars
influence the entire budget of the United States government, if your
candidate gets elected.  This is a much more efficient way to make
change.  After all, for example, most of the AIDS research dollars
come from our government.  And if we lose, the other guys get to
decide how the money is invested.”

This argument was persuasive with me.  The fiscal year 2004
Federal budget is $1,731 trillion dollars.  Yup, one point seven
trillion dollars–for a YEAR.

I’m amazed, based on these figures, that there isn’t more money in
campaign finance!  Bush is blowing everyonen’s mind by raising
$200 million for his 2004 “primary” and general election
campaign.  He expects to spend over $170 million for his unopposed
primary victory, prior to the Republican convention!  Everyone
thinks this is a lot of money.  Hell, I think it is a
bargain.  Chump change, given what is at stake.  Bush and the
Republicans will then turn around and control one point seven trillion dollars a year–for four years.  That is a lot
of Haliburton contracts.

Awhile back I suggested that if just 1 million people (1/2 of Moveon.org‘s registered users) gave $1000 to the Dean campaign,
a billion dollars could be raised.  What is the cost of taking
back the presidency?  If you have never writen a campaign check
before–you are in luck!  This year you can put in on your credit
card–it’s like buying a book from Amazon.  Wouldn’t you buy a few
more books to change the face of America?

Update one year later:  The
web, however, has also advanced.  So you can now get a lot of
influence for free, if other folks think what you are doing is
important and reflects their values–and they link to you and
join.  This process is a positive contribution of technology and
technology people to the democratization of our democracy–however small a
role we still play.  For example (and here comes the
shameless, but also free, plug) check out my current non-profit,
all-volunteer passion, stopping the genocide in Sudan, see
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