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Downhill Dean
My more trenchant and persuasive remarks will appear in Friday’s Chronicle, but for now, I’m driven to confusion by Howard Dean’s latest campaign strategy.

… the soul of our nation is at risk because the corrupting influence of special interest money is eating away at the core of our democracy.

Oh, yeah. This argument will light those nouveau Kerry and Edwards supporters on fire for Dean.

To those who say that it’s too difficult to raise money in small amounts to run a successful race – we have one answer: we’re doing it.

Yes, in the future ALL candidates can blow huge leads and win 18% of the vote in states where they visited every single county!

Last year, public disgust at the influence of money in politics finally led to enactment of the McCain/Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act …

What’s your definition of “public disgust”? Here’s the Harris poll taken in February 2002, a month before the bill was passed.

“What do you think are the two most important issues for the government to address?”
Terrorism – 27%
The economy (non-specific) – 26
Education – 12
The war – 8
Taxes – 7
National security – 7
Employment/jobs – 7
Health care (not Medicare) – 7
Afghanistan – 6
Social Security – 5
Homeland/domestic security/public safety – 4
Foreign policy (non-specific) – 3
Enron – 3
Federal surplus/deficit/budget – 3
Defense/military – 2
Drugs – 2
Domestic/social issues (non-specific) – 2
Crime/violence – 2
(Programs for) the poor/poverty – 2
Welfare – 2
Abortion – 2
Programs for the elderly – 2
Campaign finance/electoral help – 2
Medicare – 2
Immigration – 2
Osama bin Laden – 1
Homelessness – 1
Environment – 1
Ethics in government – 1
Middle east peace process – 1
Housing – 1
Prescription drug prices – 1
Air travel safety – *
Peace/world peace/nuclear arms – *
Religion (decline of) – *
Anthrax/biological attack – *
Race relations – *
Issues involving children – *
Family values (decline of) – *
Human/civil/women’s rights – *
Gun control – *
AIDS – *
Prescription drug prices – 1
Military issues – 1
School safety – 1
Not sure/refused – 12

As Howard would say, “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHH!” Feel that public outrage!

Now, here are Howard’s proposals.

Increase the public match. Match the first $100 of every donation on a five-to-one basis.

Which would double the amount of taxpayer money given to Lyndon LaRouche.

Improve incentives for candidates to accept public funding. If one candidate opts out of public financing and exceeds the spending limits, his opponents should receive additional public funds to level the playing field.

In other words, if the special interests donate tens of millions of dollars to their candidate, taxpayers should foot the bill to bring Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Howard Dean up to that level.

Take Back the Public Airwaves. Reclaim the public airwaves by requiring that TV and radio broadcasters offer a few hours of civic broadcasting every week around election time. Low dollar contributions will be matched with advertising vouchers. This will be funded entirely by a small spectrum use fee – an entirely fair reclamation of the public airwaves.

Which would, of course, provide free public TV time for Lyndon LaRouche, Al Sharpton, and Howard Dean.

Look, I’m just at a loss as to how the Dean campaign could propose something that would obviously funnel millions of dollars to fringe candidates who often run just for the heck of it, or for their own self-aggrandizement. The accidental beauty of our current system is that, if you are a kook, you are unable to play on the same field as legitimate candidates, because people don’t have to give you money.

I like the 7th point (non-partisan redistricting) – I wish it was tied to a less asinine policy proposal. And it would help if it was from a candidate who might actually win the nomination …

UPDATE: Stephen Green agrees, in his snarky fashion.

The way I read this is, Dean now wants you to buy him a third-place finish in Iowa.

That, and free TV time for Dennis Kucinich’s eyeballs!

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