Last year, the Tea Party decided it would not endorse any of the Republican candidates for President. It seemed like the right decision at the time. Watching the GOP debates and primaries over the last few months, you might question whether or not that was a wise decision.
What we have today is four good men killing one another to see who will survive long enough to win the party’s nomination. The only reason Romney is the front-runner is because he and the PACs that support him have millions more dollars than the other candidates.
You’ll recall that Gingrich surged ahead of the others in Iowa shortly before the caucuses. Then Romney’s PAC and other candidates ran millions of dollars worth of ads and nearly destroyed Gingrich’s ability to stay in the race. If not for that, Gingrich may have won Iowa and would have gone to New Hampshire in a much stronger position.
Whether or not Gingrich should be the GOP nominee is not the issue here. Most people feel that, although he has baggage that make him susceptible to attacks, a lot of the ads against him distorted the facts or were outright lies. Whenever Gingrich was able to run ads to defend himself, he fared much better. The problem is it takes money. Lots of money.
What is the real issue? Is it good for the country to have a good man—a viable candidate—all but destroyed simply because he does not have the money to counter attack ads?
One could argue that this is fair because political campaigns have always required money to survive. But, how much is enough?
One could argue that if a candidate were good enough or qualified enough, he or she should be able to raise sufficient money to survive. Survive what? The tens of millions of dollars spent on accusations that can only be answered with an equal amount of money spent on more ads?
A case can be made that shows this is insanity. We should be focused on real issues and the solutions offered by the candidates to determine which is best qualified to represent us.
Getting back to the Tea Party—the decision not to endorse one of the Republican candidates was the correct one to make. After all, if the Tea Party had endorsed a GOP candidate last year, he or she may have been one of the early casualties. Where would the Tea Party credibility be then?
But, because of the inequities in the financial resources of each candidate’s campaign, the result is not only unfair but not in the country’s best interests.
Tea Party people have and will make a difference. However, by not getting behind a candidate and leaving it up to each individual to vote his or her preference in the primaries, the votes are spread out among several candidates. That would be fine if it were not for the financial inequity outlined above. With all those votes spread between several people, it dilutes the chances of any one candidate to compete directly with Romney’s money.
What this reminds me of is the case against having a third party in the Presidential election. Most people agree that it would likely split the conservative vote and hurt the Republican party, thereby ensuring an Obama second term. Can the same be said for multiple GOP candidates representing two or more factions within the party?
Just at the time when the country is suffering from a huge 2008 mistake, campaign financing laws could make it impossible to correct it. When you consider the fact that Obama may have close to $1 billion at his disposal, something needs to be done.
I propose a solution. It’s probably too late and it may never be enacted. Based upon the financial inequities outlined here, I propose that if a candidate or PAC spends money to attack another candidate, the federal government should make an equal amount of money available to the attacked candidate to use for direct responses and to defend himself or herself. This way, voters will have the benefit of both sides of the arguments and can then make up their own minds. Candidates and PACs will rethink how they will attack their opponents. The voter wins.
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