Friday, January 17, 2014

Money in Politics

It seems like we all want community-minded, pragmatic, non-ideological, problem-solving leaders until the fundraising reports come out.  Then it's a rat race.  Then it's about who looks "strong" and who looks "foolish".  I saw someone comment on Facebook that the January reporting deadline was where "political careers go to die."

Thankfully, our campaign report was strong.  $22,000 raised from over 170 donations with almost 80% of those being for $100 or less.  Everyone I've spoken with has complimented the campaign on having a "broad base of support from grassroots donors".  If that isn't the perfect compliment for someone like me, I don't know what is.

That said, we will need to do more.  I've set a much more ambitious fundraising goal for the April report and based on early response, we're going to meet it.  Anyone who thinks they are going to outspend the energy and enthusiasm of this campaign will end up poor and disappointed.  That is a promise.

But what so interests me is the dichotomy between what we say we want and the stadium response once these fundraising reports are released.  Do you remember my post from last Friday?  Did that make you feel optimistic about politics and government?  Did you donate $10?

I should be more forthcoming with you all, as I was one of those hitting the refresh button on Wednesday.  I think one's ability to raise money is indicative of the support they have in the community.  I emphasize raise because I don't think anyone would say that "one's ability to have money" is indicative of the community's sentiment regarding their candidacy.  Studies have found that only 11% of self-funded candidates ("defined as one who received more than half of all campaign contributions from herself or himself or from an immediate family member") are successful in their races.  But overall, a healthy report shows a healthy campaign.

The problem is that if you don't hold your center, if you don't keep yourself focused, desperation creeps in.  To quote Lil Wayne "The money is the motive."  And that's what you  need to ask yourself:  Am I raising money to get our message out or am I raising money to raise money? 

It is easier to scare than inspire, but we have a moral obligation to do the latter.  I tell this to myself every day when I wake up.  I hope you are inspired to fight for the government you believe in.  Because the sad truth is that there is a fight to be had. 

But let's get back to inspiring for now - check out my campaign Facebook page today for a fun contest to help raise money for the Community Action Council of Howard County.  For every new page like, I will (personally) donate $2 to the CAC.  For every individual that shares the status, I will donate $1.  (Contest starts at 7 am)

That's all for today.  Have a great Friday doing what you love!  It's impossible not to.