Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gimme Some Money

Pardon me if I've said this before, but there are two kinds of people I hate: People who make more money than me, and people who make less money than me. This morning, it has dawned on me that the former group includes a subcategory of the most despicable sort of anthropomorphic leech: the campaigner.

The May 7 edition of the P-G's Early Returns blog updates us on the kind of money that candidates are attracting in races for office here in Allegheny County. We have candidates for County Controller who have each picked up over $100,000 since the start of 2007. We have Pittsburgh City Council candidates who have attracted more money in the same period than I make in a year. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has over half a million bucks to use in his campaign against absolutely nobody.

I won't go so far as to say that these amounts are "obscene", because (unless someone can prove otherwise) these donations were all freely given. But think about what this money is used for.

Campaign donations are used to litter the landscape with ugly plastic signs mounted on metal wire. They stuff our mailboxes with tons of junk mail. They fund obnoxious television commercials that get tiresome after the first ten seconds. (This is why I try to avoid most local TV programming.) And, worst of all, the money pays for these aspiring politicians and their ground-level functionaries to go around and bug us at home.

When I was younger, I voluntarily went door to door passing out flyers for a candidate in the municipality where I then lived. The instructions were simple: Cover as much territory as you can while you're out there, place the flyers in screen doors (but not mailboxes!), and don't worry about stopping to talk to anybody. The campaign was mostly self-funded, and all I got out of it was a little bit of pizza and a lot of sweat. What had I accomplished? I littered a lot of people's porches, that's all.

I'll never do that again. I don't much mind when someone drops stuff on my porch now, but I hate it when they feel the need to ring the doorbell and talk to me. This past Sunday, some skinhead was passing out a scrap of paper for William Lestitian, a candidate for County Council. (That's one of many local races that I don't give a rat's ass about because there is no Republican candidate.) The bastard woke me up from my weekend nap. I didn't know who was at the door and didn't much care, so I told my wife to get it. By the time she got there, my seven year old son (who informed us that the man on my porch had no hair) had answered and the skinhead was gone.

There was no need for him to invade the sanctity of the home. He could just as easily have left his propaganda in the door handle. And I could just as easily have tossed it in the garbage bin without bringing it inside.

That's the sort of thing that these big money donations are paying for: highly organized invasions of privacy on a massive scale. If the yahoos who donate high sums of money to political campaigns really want to spend their hard-earned interest on a less noxious and more worthwhile cause, they should give it to ME. I figure I'm in enough debt that I'm close to being a charity already. If these political donors give me tens of thousands of dollars, I promise to stay in my house and not bother anyone else at home. I promise not to bomb people's mailboxes with annoying junk mail. I promise to not show my face or publish my name in any print or broadcast media. I promise not to place so much as one little plastic sign on any lawn, roadway, or faux campaign office.

Those promises are meaningless, of course. But you know what? If a real politician stepped forward and made such promises, and actually kept them, I would be more than happy to consider giving them my vote. Too bad it'll never happen.

The campaigners will continue to take big money donations to fill their coffers. And none of that money will ever, EVER come from me.

1 comment:

jipzeecab said...

It seems to me that Steve Forbes spent $4000 for every vote he got in the Iowa Caucuses a while back. Too bad he didn't just send them the checks.