February 7, 2008


Democracy has a price, I know that, but is it starting to get excessive or is it already way out of hand? We all know that the U.S. primaries are in full swing and we also know that many other elections in North Amercia are iminent. The U.S. general election follows the primaries, this November, at further enormous cost. I went to the New York Times website to try and find out how much money is being spent on the primaries. All I have found so far, is the amount of money raised by each of the candidates, so this does not include the cost of actually staging the primaries, the amount of money spent by the media chasing candidates for 10 second sound bites, the amount of money each of the major parties is spending on meetings, etc. Just the amount of money raised by all the candidates to date, exceeds $600,000,000.00.

The top money-raiser, Hillary Clinton, has had to raise over $120,000,000.00 and Obama is not far behind. Democracy is supposed to create equality and allow anyone the opportunity to run for elected office. Could you raise 100 million dollars for a serious campaign? For the "winner" of the primaries, who becomes the party's presidential candidate, after a multi million dollar extravaganza called a convention, they will need to have a war chest, once again in the 10's of millions, to carry the party flag into the general election. Do the Americans elect the best candidate, or just the one who can raise the most money - tough question - take a guess at the answer.

Now, I'm just a poor country boy who is technologically challenged on the best of days, but can't we figure out a better way to do this? In an age of instant communications, television, the internet, satellites and blogs, is there not a way to redesign the process to eliminate the obscene amounts of money required to be a serious contender. For those of us who are not U.S. citizens, we should not be too smug, because the very same issue confronts us. The number of zeroes may be less, but the problem is identical. Voter turnout is dropping in most jurisdictions as a new generation continues to feel distanced from the election process and fails to see the connection between politicians and the rights and freedoms that a democracy guarantees. Surely there must be a way of harnessing the power of the household computer to the election process in a way that provides information, interaction, voting and common sense to an event that has gone completely out of control with its own excess.

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