In my perfect American utopia all campaigns are publicly financed but until then candidates need to raise money in order to gain visibility and hire campaign workers.
When I was growing up I had the unique privilege to learn first hand how campaigns work from the inside, from the back room. What I learned ultimately was one major rule of thumb : the candidate who raised the most money generally would win. This was partially due to the fact that people and entities giving money to a candidate was/is a great way to gauge early popularity of the candidate, because nobody would give to someone they didn’t like or thought couldn’t win.
Which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve been giving my money to candidates I support for years. In my mind, I love these people and want to help them to win and so I kick in some of my money. But if you think about that for a minute, isn’t that super weird? Why should we have a system where we citizens need to vote for someone more than once? And why should one of our votes be done with money? And is it fair? Clearly some people (and companies) have a lot more money than I do so their ‘vote’ is proportionally a lot greater than mine. Is that right? It’s become so normalized in my brain that it never seemed odd until I stopped to think about it.
Shouldn’t we have a system where we citizens vote exactly one time, on election day? And shouldn’t we have a system where our votes were fairly counted and applied in a rational way that ensures that the candidate with the most support wins?
The answer is YES and we need to fight for that and for public financing of elections every day until things change. But sadly, that’s not our system right now and we have to consider the race as it is today.
I was reading an article this morning about Joe Biden and why he hasn’t declared yet and one major reason was that he didn’t think that he would be able to compete with the other candidates in the small donor race. One aside, Biden thought that part of the reason was that he wasn’t of the “Social Media Generation” (as if the reason people were giving money to other candidates was because they were blindly responding to social media messaging as opposed to actual policies of the candidates!).
I took some time to dig into how much money the current candidates have raised at this point but it seems that there isn’t very much data on the FEC website yet. I can say that the Donald has raised over $67M (and spent $55M) however. We will have to wait, I’m sure for the first FEC quarterly report.
But we can speculate.
There are many reports that Sanders is winning the money race so far, followed by Harris. Elizabeth Warren has decided to swear off big money private donors as well as PACs (good for her!) so it would be interesting to see how she is doing.
But we can’t know at this moment. I’m guessing that the FEC will report out their quarterly numbers at the end of the month. We will check in then!