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July, 2007, Volume 14 Nr. 11, Issue 230

And They're Off!  
Trunks and Asses On Their Way

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

And they're off!! The 2008 presidential race opened in early 2007 when a large heard of donkeys and elephants raced out of the fundraising starting gate.  The opening lap produced the following 2007 First Quarter Fundraising Results for US Presidential aspirants:

Hillary Clinton - $26,000,000
Barack Obama - $25,000,000
Mitt Romney - $23,000,000
Rudy Giuliani - $15,000,000
John Edwards - $14,000,000
John McCain - $12.5,000,000

I began writing this article in May 2007 when the above figures were announced.  They reflect fundraising in the first quarter of 2007 where the then top six contenders (at that time) running for president of the United States had netted $115,500,000.  Ah yes! God bless the Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling that money is free speech!  Lets' hear it for the first amendment to the United States Constitution. Hip hip! Donate! Hip hip! Donate!

Barack Obama's campaign head was obviously pleased with the $25,000,000 that flooded into campaign headquarters, as he said,

This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems.

A hunger for a different kind of politics”? You have got to be kidding. Either that or the Obama campaign has been lighting up wacky weeds. A new hunger? Give us a break. Nothing has changed in U.S. presidential campaigning since the last "election". It's the same old dynamic at work within a culture obsessed with capitalism.  Capital champions over everything and defines the measure by which our “leaders” are credentialed for holding national office.  We do not elect candidates to high office in the United States. The candidates buy their way in.  No, Mr. Obama, what exists is the same old corrupting influence of large sums of money on the electoral process.  Democracy is not only ill-served, it is abrogated by campaign cash that determines candidate viability.  Little money means little electability and the U.S. ruling class determines and manufactures the candidates.

Assuming that the top six presidential contenders raise as much money in the next three quarters of 2007 as they did in the first quarter, they will have raised 460-million dollars coming into the January 2008 primaries. That is almost one-half-billion dollars. Now I know that is a mere three days worth of funding for the war in Iraq, but it is obscene. And it does not include the campaigns of Tommy Thompson, Fred Thompson, Wesley Clark, nor any other trunk or ass that wanders out of the starting gate late. Nor does it include the candidacy of former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who can easily provide his  campaign with many millions of dollars out of petty cash.  Perhaps the presidential field will eventually include Al Gore as the fusion candidate to save the Democratic Party from the global meltdown of infighting over the Iraq war and impeachment? If Gore jumps into the race, the fundraising gets even bigger.  The rumor from a Working Assets carbon fund promotional email has it that Al Gore will announce that he is campaigning on July 7, 2007, during the Live Earth Concert.  The climate change super event will be "24 hours, 7 continents, 2 billion people" and during the event we can "offset 7 tons of CO2 for $38.50" in contributions or "go ZeroCarbon for $99 a year".  Ah doing bad, feeling good.  Wonderful.  Has anyone closely looked the energy consumption of Al Gore's house?  Gore's 20 room, 8 bedroom house in Nashville, TN, uses 20 times more energy than the average house.  The Gore abode consumed an average of $1,080 worth of natural gas per month in 2006.  Not to worry, however, as the electric power is "green" energy according to Gore spokesperson, Kalee Kreider.  Al Gore's extensive private jet commuting about the planet consumes more than four times than that of a commercial airliner.  

The 2008 presidential election cycle may end up costing more than one-billion dollars! How glorious! All the balloons, champagne, newspaper, TV and television spots, jingles, swiftboating, smears and character assassination, presidential “debates”, confetti, etc. All the miles of rubber on the road and jet fuel exhaust in the air. How beautiful it all is. How invigorating for the recycled toilet paper crowd, that they can  fund candidates with a carte blanche privilege to pollute, to fill our dumps with their campaign garbage and our brains with their drivel. And then comes the piece de resistance, that ridiculous, meaningless spectacle of self-aggrandizement and excess where marketing tool is spared in exhibitions of excess, the presidential conventions.

Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now, writing in “Take Back the Airwaves”,, writes

The costs of running for federal office have been skyrocketing. More than $880 million was raised by the 2004 presidential campaigns. The 2008 election is expected to cost more than $1 billion. Sixty percent will be spent on advertising.

War and presidential politics within our greed capitalist society have one major tenet in common.  They are what makes capitalism continue and flourish.  Greed is virtue, the highest value, to which we consumers can aspire. Goodman further states,

For the tens of millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions they dole out annually, broadcasters get back billions in corporate welfare, in the form of legislation that protects their ability to sell ads over the public airwaves.

Like cancer, capitalism self-perpetuates and in the long run reaches an inevitable terminus. With every forward motion further ingraining itself as society's oppressor capitalist class distinctions become more and more apparent. Inevitably, the exploited have little left to believe in and Capitalism has less and less to exploit.  People will eventually no longer be able to shop, to take on more debt, nor to vote in elections that do not matter. A time will come when cynicism replaces consumerism as the de facto belief system of the nation. People will tune out, drop out, and stop believing.  They will stop participating in the day-to-day choreography that capitalism has proscribed for them. Worse, they will stop buying.  Neo-feudalism will have reached the end of its reign.

Recently, I watched the John Kirby film, "The American Ruling Class", with Lewis Lapham, the long-time editor of Harper’s Magazine.  The movie should been be more accurately called, "The United States Ruling Class".  Kirby refers to the movie as being a "dramatic-documentary-musical".  Kirby exposes how those in the ruling class have little compunction to see anyone making less than $500,000 per year as worthy of inclusion into their elite class and how they manipulate U.S. society and its elections.  The ruling class grooms the candidates, manufacturing them as leaders, and convincing us that, we the people, elect them.  This very effective charade successfully poses as free and democratic elections.  The charade, however, must continue, for it is the means by which the United States ruling class continues its existence.  Kirby tells us that is why any effort at changing the electoral process to be democratic will never succeed.  In an article published on Common Dreams website on June 1, 2007, entitled "How The Ruling Class Thwarts Democracy", John Kirby states that,

Reform movements are an ever-present worry for both parties’ bosses, because any successful reform put forward by regular citizens and insurgents in Congress tends to excite the electorate with the possibility of actually controlling their own government. The ruling class well understands that as the engagement of the citizenry waxes, their own power wanes. And it is war and the threat of war that provide the best excuse for not passing social-welfare legislation, and calling anyone who demands it “unpatriotic.”

And so, the 2008 presidential race which began in January 2007, rolls on.  So does the fund raising.  At the end of the 2nd quarter 2007, the July 1 fundraising totals as reported by are:

Barack Obama (D) $32,000,000
Hillary Clinton (D) 27,000,000
Rudy Giuliani (R) $17,000,000
Mitt Romney (R) $14,000,000
John McCain (R) $11,200,000
John Edwards (D) $9,000,000
Bill Richardson (D) $7,000,000
Christopher Dodd (R) $3,500,000
Joe Biden (D) $2,400,000
Sam Brownback (R) $1,800,000
Tom Tancredo (R) $1,200,000
Ron Paul (R) $640,000
Mike Huckabee $544,000
Duncan Hunter (R) $539,000
Tommy Thompson (R) $392,000
Dennis Kucinich (D) $344,000
Jim Gilmore (R) $204,000
Mike Gravel (D) $16,000

This adds up $128,779,000 raised for the 2nd quarter of 2007.  When added to the total for the 1st quarter 2007 of $115,500,000, this comes out to $244,279,000 or nearly one-quarter of one-billion dollars raised 6 months before the first primary election is held and 18 months before the 2008 presidential election.  And what of the public funding of presidential campaigns?  David Kirby, in the NY Times, Death Knell May Be Near For Public Election Funds, back in January 2007 wrote,

The public financing system for presidential campaigns, a post-Watergate initiative hailed for decades as the best way to rid politics of the corrupting influence of money, may have quietly died over the weekend...By declaring her confidence that she could raise far more than the roughly $150 million the system would provide for the 2008 presidential primaries and general election, Mrs. Clinton makes it difficult for other serious candidates to participate in the system without putting themselves at a significant disadvantage...It also means that the presidential candidates will be more beholden than ever to the so-called bundlers, often lobbyists, who solicit donations to present to campaigns in a lump sum.

Thank you Hillary.  

Senator John McCain once called the current system of campaign financing as "nothing less than an elaborate influence-peddling scheme in which both parties conspire to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder."  He further went on to say, "We're all corrupt".  You've got that right John!  In an attempt at presenting himself as a maverick, McCain misspeaks and tells the truth.  The corruption is, however, irretrievable.  The question then becomes do we as concerned citizens for democracy participate in the monumental fraud that the electoral process is?  Do we as free human beings sanction the ruling elite's corrupt system by placing our imprimatur on it through the ballot box?  I have made my decision.  The reader will have to determine for him or herself what their conscience will allow.  

The Democrats think Republicans are stealing elections. The Republicans think Democrats are stealing elections. And those of us independent of the two old parties know they are both right. -- Kevin Zeese

©2007 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD
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