Barack O’Billion

Obama's $1 billion campaignThe latest estimates, as evidenced by stories like this one from Reuters, is that Barack Obama will raise $1 billion to run for his re-election in 2012. This amount is likely to dwarf any potential Republican rival, especially when considering that Obama doesn’t have to spend any of trying to win primaries.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of a “grassroots” president planning a 10-figure campaign in the middle of a 13-figure budget crisis rubs me wrong. In other words, I have a much better idea for how a presidential candidate can spend $1 billion. So let me take this opportunity to turn my post into:

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Despite being politically moderate, and despite my occasional chagrin with your policies, I like you as a president. I liked your 2008 campaign, and its grassroots character. I like the glass ceiling you’ve broken, for the benefit of racial relations in this country. And I like the way you tackle issues head on with a minimum of the usual issue-dodging and political mumbo-jumbo.

However, I’m afraid that the end of your first term may mark the end of everything that made your administration a breath of fresh air. Because there are two things that absolutely infuriate so many Americans seeking and end to wasteful government spending: Black-Tie Fundraisers, and Campaign Commercials. As many of us see it, these Fundraisers are literally the place where political power is bought, and the Commercials are where it is sold.

No doubt this is where the majority of campaign money is spent, on these Commercials that everyone hates, and nobody is really swayed by. Are you, Mr. President, prepared to spend a solid chunk of $1 billion on them? I hope not. Instead, I’d like to propose an alternative.

Raise your billion, if you must. But then make an announcement that $100 million of it is going to healthcare for children, instead of your campaign. I guarantee that you will get more positive media attention from this announcement than you would from $100 million worth of TV ads. Pick nine more causes, like safer streets, career re-training programs, drug addiction centers, etc, etc, and give each one $100 million, every two weeks. You’ve seen what that sort of magnanimity does for Oprah. If you weren’t already a media darling, this would seal the deal.

Not only would this plan be a tremendous benefit to American society, it would be a much more affective way to campaign. Except for a little bit of traveling around and pontificating in the final 3 months, no other compaigning is necessary. You’re the incumbent! Make the right decisions, and you have total access to the eyes and ears of the American people. This is your chance to be the Obama that people came to know in 2008, a persona that brought so many people inspiration and hope. Plus, you have the opportunity, here and now, to set the example for future leaders, and unwind the narcissistic trend of over-spending that’s been spiraling out of control.

Sincerely,
Ryan Wiksell
Springfield, Missouri

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4 Responses to Barack O’Billion

  1. Drew says:

    I consider myself moderate-to-left, but begrudgingly because it seems to me that only the politics of the simple-minded should be able to be measured on a continuum. I’m moderately okay with Obama and I was moderately okay with Dubya.

    That all being said, how is Obama raising $1 billion this election cycle different from the money he raised last cycle? I know he didn’t raise that much, but where exactly is the threshold where it is bothersome? I do agree that this says bad things about the state of American politics, I’m just interested to know where your line in the sand is.

  2. Drew says:

    Uh, I meant to say moderate-to-right. Doesn’t really matter, I guess.

  3. rwiksell says:

    That’s a really good question. In principle, I don’t think there is a difference between the $750 million he raised 4 years ago, and the billion he’s expected to raise this time. Both amounts are obscene and wasteful.

    I do see two differences between 2008 and 2012, though. One is that we are smack dab in the middle of a budget squabble that threatens to shut down the government. Naturally he’ll do must of his fund-raising later, hopefully after that squabble has been resolved, but the budget crisis is still likely to last throughout his campaign nevertheless.

    The other difference is that, as the incumbent, Obama has the opportunity to actually win with a strategy like I’ve suggested, whereas a mere candidate would find the approach much riskier. Additionally, I believe a sitting president has a heightened responsibility to set an example, and truly care for the fiscal and social health of a nation, instead of checking out for a year to campaign for himself.

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