Barack Obama this week rejected public fundung for his campaign according to the Los Angeles Times. This seems like a big deal, I know, and a lot of good government analysts are saying that it is a mistake and that it could be a strong point for McCain in the gneral election It is not so much that he rejected the public financing, but that he said previously that he was committed to public financing. So he has done some backpedaling. He will certainly have to answer for that. But is the actual rejection of the public funding a big deal? I say that there will be some huffing and puffing, but ultimately it won’t be a big issue.
First let us take a look at what the public funding thing is all about. I personnaly like the idea of it – the little check box on your tax returns allows you to donate three dollars to the presidential election process, and then that money is doled out to the candidates so that they can run effectively even campaigns. If they accept the public money, then they are legally bound to that amount during the campaign. It is basically a voluntary spending cap in return for a huge amount of money from the public. This time it was in the area of 84 million dollars, which is a lot, but both candidates would have the same amount of money to smear each other with. Fair fight. Good idea.
This process has worked for the major party candidates for a couple of decades. But Barack choseto reject the public’s money, which means that he has no legal restrictions on how much he can raise and spend. No more fair fight. This represents a pretty aggressive strategy and a confidence in his supporters that they will be willing to shore him up with considerably more than the 84 million dollars that he would have received from the tax payers. Things could get ugly, and that is something that the American people don’t want to see. Me included.
But here is the rub. Allow me to use an example from my backyard. My literal backyard. I am committed to organic living. I say it all the time and just the other day I bought some flax seed for too much money because it was sprayed with some sort of hot sauce or something instead of chemicals that will stunt my children’s growth. I have a garden, I have two cherry trees, an apple tree, and some pear trees. I have an opportunity to provide my family with organic fruits and vegetables from my backyard, and I have bragged a bit about how the organic food will be great to have and cheaper than shopping at the co-op. I also have bugs. I live in Iowa where we have had more precipitation since last thanksgiving than We have had int he last five years combined. The wetness is like a spa and resort for the lawn insects. I hate them, and my wife is allergic to most of the bites, so no sitting outside and enjoying our unseasonably cool weather.
So what am I to do? I will tell you – I am sprayign my yard with some really good bug spray. Get rid of the bugs. all of my eco conscious friends will sneer and give me a dissappointed look and then I will have to hear abotu how I said I was committed to organic stuff and it will be a big deal for a while. But int he end, is the spraying of the yard a big deal for everyone?
My guess is that they will still come and get some cherries and squash. In the end, everyone wants what works. And I want Barack Obama to be the President. So, I am not excited about the strategy today, but I will cheer just as loud in November.