Tuesday, September 30, 2003
( 9:35 AM )
The End of Special Interest Campaigns?
If you'll indulge me, just a short note on the political front today. The Howard Dean campaign is set to announce $15 million as it's Q3 earnings. This not only breaks Clinton's high record of 10.3 million, it blows it away. But the story isn't the money itself, it's how Dean got the money. It wasn't from a few PACs lining up their big time donors, it wasn't from special interest corporate help. Nope, it's been from citizens of the country, giving $20, $50 and $100 bucks to a campaign that they believe is interested in what they think, not what Halliburton thinks. Even Dick Morris concedes:
Howard Dean is also catalyzing the most far-reaching
of reforms in campaign finance. Indeed, the Dean
campaign will likely mark the end of the big money
era in our politics, when campaigns were dominated
by ultra-wealthy donors or special interests
contributing massive amounts of money.
Dean is proving that, through the Internet, he can
mobilize large numbers of relatively small contributors,
whose combined giving can overwhelm that of
wealthy special-interest donors. In so doing, he's also
ending the oligarchy of monied power in the Democratic
Party typified by Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National
Committee chairman whose sole qualification is his
ability to raise big bucks.
I've said it tons of times before, but what excites me about the Dean campaign even more than I could be excited about the candidate himself is the way the campaign is working. In the end, if Howard Dean comes out on top, he will owe US, the American people who put him there, not any big corporate interests, not any huge political power-brokers, but us. He is hated by the old-style, top-down money controlling politicos - that's why the DLC are desperately trying to stop him - he doesn't buy into their power structure. He owes them nothing and seeks nothing from them. And that scares the pants off them. What to do with a man running for president who is accountable to no one but the people voting for him? Dean not only has used the Internet to deal a huge blow to special interest money, he's used it to establish firm bases in all 50 states of hard working, dedicated and organized volunteers who take the place of storefront campaign offices with a few paid employees - these volunteers are out meeting people, organizing events and registering people to vote.
Like I've said before, even if I don't agree with all of Dean's positions, I respect the way he is running for office, I respect that he has allowed the people to continue to direct his path but that he's made wise decisions. And I respect the fact that he can actually win over voters who might be on the fence about Bush. There's no longer any question that Dean can win the national election. And when he does, we will have propelled into office a man who depended on us to get him there. Now, for once, I think that we can all agree that we could live with that kind of precedent.