Trump on Muslims

Well I know the story is continuing on this issue. If Trump was President, I know his advisors would tell him to speak different on this issue. Back in the late 1970 President Jimmy Carter would not allow Iranians in this country after they took our people hostage. There is a provision in the immigration laws that allow the President not to allow certain people in this country if these people will harm other people in this country. The correct thing for Trump to say is we do not want Muslims from Syria in this country because of ISIS. Well in Switzerland they caught two Muslims that was from ISIS and they had fake passports to get into the country. Well I do not think that President Obama has the nerve to not let people from Syria in this country. I would think that he would go ahead and endanger this country by letting these refugees in and this will be a way for ISIS to get into this country and set up sleeper cells. Let us make sure this does not happen. I know a lot of governors do not want these people in their state and I do not blame them and they have the right just as the President does to protect the people of their state.

Health Care

Well I know by now that everyone here in the US has found out the Affordable Health Care Act is not affordable. This is one of the big scams and lie that President Obama and the democrats has done to this country. It seems that it is the democrats who say they are for the working man when that is a big lie because big unions help them get into office. When it comes to several things the working class people need the democrats take away.  Some of the democrats stated that they did not read the bill just voted on it. These laws does nothing to help the poor and the unemployed and the make it a law that you have to have it and how can you have something when you can not afford it? This is why we need the policy maker to write the laws not the lobbyists who pay them big money for their special needs. There are some good things about the law but most of it is costing a lot of small business to pay more for health care and not be able to hire new employees. The right thing to do is to vote in a whole new group of people who is willing to do away with this law and start all over with it.

Trump and Hillary

Well with the election starting to get more interesting. It seems that Trump is getting most of the attention. The comments he said about Muslims and in some sense he is correct. We do not know if any of the people coming from Syria and let us look what happen in Germany a few months ago. Germany let in a lot of these people from Syria and in one of the camps they start to fly the ISIS flag in which Germany went in a arrested these people. The only way we are going to trust the Muslims is the good one should start standing up and tell the one the join any terrorist  group that they will be an abomination to their religion or they are going to start joining the Christian and the Jews to fight against them.

Hillary on the other hand is not in touch with all the hate that is going on in this country. To state that is not the American way is to hate will Hillary you have not seen all the hate towards the police, the hate towards the blacks and the hate towards the lbgt community. Another thing take I do not like about Hillary is the commit that she made stating ” that she will continue on with Obama policies.” We do not need someone who is going to continue on with the fail policies of Obama.

So let all think about this who is really a good candid here? Ted Cruz should not run because he was born in Canada. So if the Republicans made big stink about Obama birth certificate why are the democrats making a big fuse about Cruz.  Plus we DO NOT need another Bush in the white house.

 

Managers in Higher Education Must Harness Power, Politics

Competition for resources – internal and external – means power and politics become even greater issues for managers in higher education today.

Add to that the closer scrutiny of performance, both academic and administrative, and managers in higher education face some real challenges.

From an educational perspective, the changes over the last decade in the way learning is facilitated (e.g. the move to such strategies as distance learning, e-learning and blended learning), mean the challenges for managers become twofold – content, what is done and process, the way it is done.

In such an environment, the calls for the higher education manager to add the “leadership” string to his or her management bow are long and loud. This is irrespective of whether the manager has arrived via the academic or administrative stream to their current position.

But, just what is meant by “leadership”? Does it differ from “management”? And most importantly, how does one “do leadership”?

Let’s start with management. Management is what one gets paid to do, i.e. to achieve certain tasks using the available resources. Management success is seen through the eyes of the organisation. Management is therefore mandatory (probably under pain of death!).

Leadership on the other hand, is only seen through the eyes of others – peers, colleagues, staff and other key stakeholders – those whom we need to influence without authority. Leadership is optional, but obviously highly desirable. Leadership within the group or team is evident when people are highly motivated, working co-operatively and performing at their best.

One further factor distinguishes leadership. Unlike management, it does not reside in one person – it is more a condition or function rather than a role. As Charles Handy once described it – leadership is “distributed” throughout the manager’s group or team. Although leadership may start with the manager, it’s the conditions that the manager establishes and maintains that decide whether the leadership function flourishes.

Just what are these conditions and how does the manager establish them? Four conditions are evident when leadership exists:

* A shared understanding of the environment. i.e., people have a very clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses within their group or team together with the opportunities and threats. There is a collective understanding of “We know what we face.”

* A shared sense of direction. i.e., people know (collectively) what they are trying to achieve. People can say “We know where we are going.”

* A shared set of values, i.e. people will say “We really enjoy working in this team with these people.”

* A shared feeling of power. There is a feeling of “We can do this.”

Establishing these conditions can commence with a series of workshops to encourage the sharing and distributive nature of leadership.

Then of course there is the external focus of leadership – influencing those outside the team or group to adequately manage power and politics. This can start with a thorough stakeholder analysis such as:

* Who are my key stakeholders? i.e., by name and / or position – customers, suppliers, owners, staff, community, industry.

* What is the effectiveness of each of these relationships? Give each a rating from +3 to -3 to give a clearer indication of effectiveness.

* How important is each relationship? Rank each on the basis of “high”, “medium” or “low”.

* Select those with a high degree of importance and a low rate of relationship effectiveness

* Ask – What are their sources of power and influence? How might I best use these?

* Discuss your analysis with a trusted colleague or friend (perhaps from outside H.E.). Develop a plan for managing each of these important stakeholders. Then review these relationships again in three months time.

Managing power and politics is a challenge for managers in higher education, but it can be mastered. As managers, too often we are so tied up in the moment of trying to achieve results that we do not take the time to reflect and plan an effective leadership strategy.

Hopefully the approach discussed here will generate a structure where distributed leadership copes with the day-to-day processes, freeing you up to focus on important management content issues. Great when our people can say, “Yep, we know the challenges facing us, the direction we have to go and that we will support one another. We can really make a difference here.”

French Politics – The Electoral System

Penetrating the many layers of mystery surrounding the French political system and presidential elections can at times seem a daunting task for a Brit or an American whose own system is quite different from that of the French. For an American having grown up in a two-party system with party conventions, primary elections and an electoral college, the French multi-party framework where seemingly anyone can toss their hat into the ring presents a unique challenge. And the differences between the British parliamentary system, although a few similarities exist in the selection of the prime minister, are equally vast. With all eyes turned to the upcoming presidential elections and the political campaign that is now getting under way and with so much time devoted to the issue in the French print media and especially on the nightly news on TV, it might be well to take a look at just how the French electorate goes about selecting a new president.

France has a parliamentary political system that has been refined and changed repeatedly through the political upheaval of the French Revolution in 1789 and the five successive constitutions. The Fifth Republic was born in 1958 with the adoption of a new constitution that fit more precisely with the political agenda of Charles de Gaulle than the first post-war constitution of 1946. According to the 1958 constitution, France is a parliamentary democracy with both a president and a prime minister. The prime minister is appointed by the president but must be confirmed by the deputies in the General Assembly, which means that he or she is always from the majority party in the General Assembly, a situation similar to that in Great Britain. The president, on the other hand, is elected by direct universal suffrage (a constitutional amendment in 1962 established the direct election of the president). Presidential elections and legislative elections are never held on the same dates, as is the case in the United States.

There are a myriad of political parties in France, which can contribute to the perceived complexity of the electoral system in the eyes of citizens of other countries. Each party has the right to present a candidate for president (more on the various parties in forthcoming issues), which means that for the first round of elections there can be as many as 40 different candidates on the ballot. This first round of voting serves the same purpose in essence as the primary elections in the US, with a significant difference: should one candidate get more than 50% of the votes cast on the first round, he or she is declared the winner and a second round will not be necessary. The two top vote getters in the first round will then face each other in the second round, which is held two weeks after the first. In the seven elections since direct universal election of the president was instigated, it has never happened that a particular candidate won the election outright on the first round. It has almost always been a candidate from the left facing a candidate from the right – one notable exception was the complete surprise in 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen from the far-right Front National finished second to Jacques Chirac and ahead of the socialist candidate Lionel Jospin.

The current media frenzy in France involves the selection of the various candidates from the respective parties. There is considerable suspense on both the right and the left as to who will represent the major parties: Nicolas Sarkozy, the current minister of the interior and the first secretary of the reformed Gaullist party UMP is considered to be the strong front runner for that party’s nomination. His only opposition could be the current prime minister Dominique de Villepin. Both men have ambitions to be president, but Sarkozy enjoys a far greater advantage in the public opinion polls. On the left, the suspense has been even greater, especially within the Socialist Party where Ségolène Royal has caused not only quite a stir within the party but something close to a revolution in French politics. She handily defeated the former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin for the presidency of the Poitou-Charen-tes Region and has since rallied considerable support within the Socialist Party. Royal’s declaration of her intention to be a candidate for the candidacy of the party was welcomed by her supporters, but it obviously irked several of the stalwarts within the party who, rightly or wrongly, felt it was their turn. The likes of Lionel Jospin, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), Jack Lang and Laurent Fabius, who have since been labeled “Les Eléphants”, were anything but subtle in their opposition to and criticism of Ségolène Royal. The result was also something quite new in French politics: an internal “primary” election to select the presidential candidate.

Jospin and Lang withdrew from the race leaving Royal, Strauss-Kahn and Fabius in contention for the nomination. Following a series of three televised debates, the “militants” of the Socialist Party voted for their presidential candidate in the first of two scheduled rounds on November 16th (a second round, if necessary, on November 23rd). In spite of polls showing DSK closing ranks on Royal, the results have been characterized as a “tidal wave” victory for Ségolène Royal. With 60.62% of the votes cast, she won the nomination on the first round. DSK received 20.83% and Fabius 18.54%. With Ségolène Royal’s overwhelming win of the party’s nomination, she will not, however, be the first woman candidate for the presidency, but, according to the polls, she is the first woman with a strong chance of actually becoming the president of France and the most likely person of either sex to be able to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy, the likely candidate from the right.

Social Control During the Roman Empire – Politics

Politics are a central instigator for social control as they set out the guidelines for how a culture is directed. During ancient Rome a number of political themes were in evidence as part of gladiatorial spectacles that exhibited social control. The rhetorician and advocate Fronto (no date) was well aware of the political power of the gladiatorial spectacle. He provides a fascinating insight into the political structure of the time, claiming that:

the human drives that lead men to demand the grain dole are less powerful than those which lead them to desire spectacle (Fronto no date, Letters 2.18.9-17)

Fronto is inferring that the power of spectacle outweighs that of life itself; in order to live the Romans require the grain. This is possibly a slightly exaggerated view point expressed by Fronto, as without life the Roman people would not be able to view the spectacle, however it does provide a useful indication as to how powerful the spectacle could be. In the same letter Fronto (no date, Letters 2.18.9-17) also points out the political significance of the spectacle:

that only the people eligible for the grain dole are won over by handouts of grain, and at that individually, whereas the whole people are won over by spectacles

Here Fronto is pointing out that the grain has an impact on the populace on an individual level, however the spectacle can win people over on a collective level. As the Roman games developed through the late Republic and into the empire the Roman games became increasingly more spectacular and more politically charged. Upon the formation of the Empire, Kyle (2007) argues that the Roman people surrendered any freedom that they had and succumbed to autocracy, both of which were substituted for spectacle and free food.

Political Status

Social control through gladiatorial spectacles could be used to enhance political status, via admiration of the populace and the acquisition of votes. Poliakoff (1987, p109) states that “the arena most clearly displayed the power and control of its organisers”. Fronto (no date, Letters 2.18.9-17), while discussing Trajan, highlights this further, stating that Trajan’s rule was endorsed by the populace as much for the gladiatorial spectacles that he put on as for more serious matters. Fronto also commented on the neglect of both these aspects stated that “serious things are neglected with greater loss, but games, with greater resentment” (Fronto no date, Letters 2.18.9-17).

The abolition of the Republic and formation of the Empire meant there was no longer the need to compete for votes, so the focus of gladiatorial spectacle changed to “fit the Emperor’s agenda” (Futrell 2006, p29). The gladiatorial spectacle provided Emperors with the opportunity to stamp their own authority on the people, Poliakoff (1987, p109) states that the Emperor was “the arbiter of life and death”.

Julius Caesar was fully aware of the power of the spectacle in determining his political status. Plutarch (75 CE) puts forward that he “entertained the people with three hundred and twenty single combats” and that consequently he “threw into the shade all the attempts that had been made before him”. Spectacle under Julius Caesar was stretched so far that it scared other politicians to the point where they passed legislation that limited “the number of gladiators which anyone was to be allowed to keep in the city” (Suetonius 121 CE, 15). Julius Caesar was also the first person to use only silver and no other metal within the arena (Pliny Natural History 33.53 cited Futrell 2006).

During the reign of Augustus, praetors who performed as editore to gladiatorial spectacles were restricted in terms of resources. This meant that the gladiatorial spectacles that were associated directly with the Emperor would receive greater accolade, and the crowd would “clearly see to whom their gratitude was owed” (Shadrake 2005, p63). This shows that Augustus was aware of the power of the spectacle in enhancing political status, and that in order to increase his own status, stifling other political figure’s control over it was an effective means. Augustus provided eight gladiatorial spectacles in which 10,000 men fought, “thus eclipsing forever the memory of Julius Caesar‘s grand games” (Shadrake 2005, p63)

The reign of Commodus provided a more violent indication of how the games could be used to achieve political status. Cassius Dio (CE 54-211, 73.20) reports that Commodus

gathered all the men in the city who by disease or some other calamity had lost their feet, had fastened some dragon’s extremities about their knees, and after giving them sponges to throw instead of stones had killed them with blows of a club, on the pretenCE that they were giants.

Although this account by Cassius Dio appears horrific when compared to modern morals, at the time it showed the Emperors “divine role as Herculean exterminator of monsters” (Grant 1967, p113). Here Emperor Commodus is attempting to convince the audience through this very public metaphor that he is divine. Suetonius (121 CE, Caligula) depicts the extravagance under the rule of Caligula; upon being crowned Emperor “more than a hundred and sixty thousand victims are said to have been slain in sacrifice.”

The way that the spectacles were used by political figures varied between the Republic and Empire. During the Republic there was a need to defeat political competitors and to win votes from the populace. In contrast the Empire did not present the head of state with competition as there was an autocracy in place. Beneath the Emperor however, other political figures such as aediles, praetors and generals wanted to use these spectacles in order to exhibit social control over the population and win votes. The main feature in heightening political status would be for the Emperor to impose his own personal stamp on the gladiatorial spectacle as Caligula and Commodus did. Evidence here has shown that political figures have used spectacle to enhance their political status through grandeur and the ability to shock.

Fear

Cassius Dio (CE 54-211, 73.20) discussed why some of the spectators chose not to attend the spectacle, there was rumour that Commodus planned to shoot some of the spectators to emulate Hercules; “for they were partly ashamed of what was being done and partly afraid.”

Domitrian also liked to portray fear through the gladiatorial spectacle to control the populace. After an outspoken member of the audience questioned a decision he had made: “he caused to be dragged from his seat and thrown into the arena to dogs, with this placard: “A favourer of the Thracians who spoke impiously.”” (Suetonius 121 CE, Domitrian).

This political tool of fear can be employed by an Emperor to control any danger of citizens apposing his authority.

Parents, Children, and Politics – Are Our Kids Listening?

This is election year and often, as parents, our conversations turn to politics. Our beliefs, our fears, our tolerances or our impatience. Are our kids listening? Are they being influenced? Who is the bigger influence: Parents or Hollywood?

We all know Hollywood celebrities have a huge influence on people in general, especially

with children. Little Timmy sees Adam Sandler drinking his product-placed new flavor of

Mountain Dew and suddenly little Timmy wants it. Not a big surprise.

Most of these impressions are harmless, as long as parents maintain the final buying/consumption decisions. But more and more these days, celebrities are using their power to voice their personal political opinions. Which would be fine, but when their statements are bias and lean to the left or (occasionally) right, is that the message we want sent to our children? Does it follow our beliefs? And, how does it influence children?

When George Clooney goes up to accept his Academy Award and gives a long speech on how liberalism is basically the wave of the future, he’s molding his fans’ minds. Fans may or may not have already felt that way but his opinion seems to have an impact on society.

George Clooney is just an example. More and more politicians are using actors to be their voices.

You need not be politically active nor even agree with a political side to feel the influence. It is everywhere.

As adults/parents, chances are we have already formed our core beliefs. But, what about the kids?

Raising children today is much different than generations prior. Kids do talk about policies and elections. They live in the same world we do and are affected by many aspects of the political fall- out.

There is no way to completely isolate your children from differing political opinions. Even if you never let them watch tv or listen to the radio, there are still the playground, school and neighborhood friends that have been influenced and now feel empowered with their new viewpoint.

What you can do though is teach children how to become an informed American citizen and voter.

When your children turn 18 and go to the voting polls, hopefully you will have instilled in them a sense of responsibility to vote their minds based on research. Instead of a movie star influence.

They will have been exposed to the hidden messages in some of their favorite movies or shows and might think ‘wow, I can’t support this because Family Guy made fun of it.’ But, hopefully, with family discussions during their impressionable years, they will know enough to be able to sort through the facts to reach their own conclusions.

Wouldn’t it be great if Hollywood help send the message out to children to go research and find out for themselves what they truly believe in? Sad to say, some adults don’t even do that. They, too, succumb to well paid messages.

Voting is an extra ordinary privilege and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Each vote does count and it is our children we are handing over the governing to, all too soon.

Include your children in appropriate political discussions. Encourage them to ask questions and assist them with research on issues that are of interest to them.

There are plenty of websites and books out there speaking from a mutual standpoint so they can be educated and learn to vote for their own reasons on a subject. If they go left, that’s great. If they go right, that’s great, too. Just as long as they’re leaning one way or another for their own reasons based on solid information.

It is Hollywood’s right to speak out, just as it is anyone’s. That’s what makes this country so great, free speech.

It is a good thing when anyone speaks out and takes initiative regarding issues they

feel need changed or tweaked. Voices cause action.

But please, let it be parents who teach our children how to become an informed American Citizen. Let the influence begin in the family home. Let parents teach their children the true honor of living in this country. The right to our own opinion!

When the children grow up, hopefully they will be in the habit of being surrounded by influences but still thinking for themselves. If, as parents, we do our job well, the children may actually end up disagreeing with us on social issues.

If that is the case, and your children form that opinion based on experiences and research, than you have done well by them. After all, you can teach facts and figures but you can’t teach an opinion…

Two-Party System in the United States

One of the prominent features of the American political system is the presence of a competitive two-party system. Parties were formed in the U.S. polity while the founding fathers were against the formation of parties and George Washington in his farewell speech warned the nation against parties. The reason for that might have been the fear of parties splitting the country in parts once they had just managed to make a union. Contrary to Washington’s idea, the United States experienced a short period of partyless politics. During the presidency of Washington’s successor, John Adams, the Federalists consisting of Adams and his allies supported a strong central government while the Democratic-Republicans of Thomas Jefferson were more in favor of state power. So, the first two-party competition in the U.S. began at that time and Jefferson who succeeded Adams was the first U.S. president elected as the nominee of a political party.

The second party system began around 1824 when the old Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans changed to be the Democratic Party to which President Andrew Jackson belonged and the opposition party to the President was called the Whig Party. The Whig Party was replaced with the Republican Party which was formed in 1854. Since that time the Republicans and the Democrats have been the two major parties in the U.S. Other parties have also been formed throughout the history but they have not been very influential and the two parties of Republicans and Democrats have dominated elections in the United States since the presidential election of 1860. Now, the question is ‘why has the United States maintained a two-party system up to now?’

America since its foundation has tried to represent democracy. However, preserving a two-party system seems contrary to what people expect of a democratic country. While some people believe that American two- party system no longer serves the interest of the nation, we see that this system is unlikely to change. The reason for this lies in the American mindset. As stated at the beginning of this essay, the founding fathers of America were against parties because they were afraid of the country being divided in parts; thus, creating a chaotic environment. American polity was based on the system of checks and balances and balance is the key to American mindset. A single- or multi-party system creates unbalance.

In a multi-party system, extreme elements are allowed in which may cause the system to become unstable. A single-party system is also unstable since not all people of a country have the same attitudes and beliefs. So, any opposition to the dominant party weakens the stability of the country. However, at this point one might say that two parties cannot also represent the will of the entire nation. This is true but what is interesting about the American polity is that its two major parties are very inclusive and their views cover a long spectrum of ideas. Thus, the need for having a three- or multi-party system is not really felt. It seems that the two parties of Republicans and Democrats can be representatives of the majority of the population since nearly two-thirds of Americans identify themselves with either the Republicans or the Democrats and most of those who introduce themselves as independents have partisan leanings. According to statistics about 71 percent of democratic-leaning independents and 79 percent of Republican-leaning independents have voted for their parties’ nominees in the last four presidential elections. It is estimated that only 9 percent of Americans are ‘pure independents’. We can see that the scope of the ideas of the two parties is broad enough to represent the will of the majority. Hence, the American two-party system does not contradict its democracy.

Moreover, in polities with the system of “first past the post” having a two-party politics is needed so that two similar candidates would not split the same voters. Although the two-party system provides people with only two choices and limits the diversity of the government, it makes it easier for the voters to vote. This is beneficial to the American system which usually experiences a low voter turnout.

All in all, despite the deficiencies of a two-party system and the criticism against it, in America this system has long been preserved. This is because bipolarity is the most balanced system which maintains consistency and promotes stability. The American two-party system; however, does not contradict democracy since the two major parties have a wide range of views to which the majority of people can attach themselves. Thus, the country maintains its stability while representing the ideas of the majority via the two parties.

Religion and Politics

Politics and Religion is a part of the United States political process. Additionally, the 1st amendment gives voters of the United States the freedom of Religion, press, expression of speech as stated below. This is vital in both State and local politics and the basis for voters questioning a candidate’s belief system.

“Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There is currently a voiced concern over a candidate being a Mormon. Other candidates have religious views that meet the Christian and a Catholic beliefs. Candidates are currently telling voters that their religion and politics will not interfere with the way they govern and people should not be concerned. However, if following State and a Muslim was a moving force in directing our United States Politics there would be great concern among voters voting in the primary or general election for 2008. The fact that Islam has a reputation of having radical Muslims in both politics and religion promotes questioning of the political candidates religious beliefs when they decide to run for presidency, even though this religion is increasing in State across several countries.

The fact is when voting for a president whether in a general election or in a primary the individual automatically opens their life up to scrutiny or questioning of beliefs be it family beliefs, financial beliefs or religious beliefs.

The realism is, politician beliefs as well as citizen beliefs help form their opinions and how they chose to approach every situation. This the total package of what makes a person who they are both good and bad. This explains how candidates come up with their decision or solution when navigating the United States Politics It is a responsible voter who questions ones beliefs about the candidate’s religious beliefs as it is regarding their beliefs about fiscal responsibility and government’s role in the process. Additionally, the United States should never consider a law that prevents any religion for seeking office of presidency, not only because it’s in our first amendment and would violate our constitution but also because as religions spread so does the total restructuring of beliefs of the voter both in State and local politics.

The final decision of who will be elected in the United States will always end up on the shoulders of the voters and the Electoral College, thus the voter still drives the United States Politics as long as democracy still has control.

In the end people do not have to choose to be in politics. If they choose not to be in politics their religious beliefs should not be questioned as long as their beliefs do not provoke violence among non-believers. If the politicians religious beliefs are so strong, be it State or local politics they do not want to share or are unable to discuss their views then the candidate should not ask to represent me or the voters of the United States.

Money, Politics, and Elections

George Washington said it so well, “Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” Exactly what effect does money have on politics, at what point does money corrupt elections, and when will the monetary cost of winning elections stop escalating?

These are critical questions if the “people” are to elect politicians instead of organizations and their lobbyists.

So how does money get into the political system?

Hard Money versus Soft Money

“Hard money” is money contributed directly to a candidate or to a political party. It is regulated in both source and amount, and monitored by the Federal Election Commission.

“Soft money” is money contributed to organizations and committees rather than to candidates and parties. It is “soft” money is not reported to or monitored by the Federal Election Commission, making it harder to trace its origins.

Soft money originated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo 1976. This case ruled that limitations on donations to candidates were constitutional; however, it created a loophole in which organizations could spend unregulated money for “issue advertising;” any advertising that was not expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate.

Soft money can be used for:

o Support for the party rather than the party’s candidate

o Advertising support for political issues (especially those tied to your candidate)

o Registering voters (especially those you think will vote for your candidate)

o Hiring people for voter canvassing in neighborhoods

o Getting people to the polls on election day

o Campaign administrative costs

Since soft money comes from outside the candidate’s election organization, it can be used to attack the opposition, while claiming to come from a neutral source; in effect, negative campaigning by proxy.

Such organizations became called “political action committees” or PACs. Approximately 90% of PAC money goes to incumbents, making it a tool to keep incumbents in office.

Matching Funds

Matching funds are subsidies limited to presidential candidates. They affect both the primary and general election. Candidates qualify by privately raising $5,000 each in at least 20 states.

Once qualified, the government provides a dollar for dollar “match” for each contribution to the campaign, up to a limit of $250 per contribution. In return, the candidate agrees to limit their spending according to a statutory formula.

From 1976 through 1992, almost all candidates who qualified, accepted matching funds in the primary. That changed from 1996 through 2006 when Steve Forbes, George W. Bush, John Kerry, and Howard Dean opted out of the program because they could raise more funds on their own. In 2008, rejection of matching funds took a big step up with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul deciding not to take matching funds. Once these candidates refused matching funds, they were free to spend as much money as they wanted.

Beyond primary matching funds, the federal government subsidizes the general election. No major party turned down government funds for the general election since the program was launched in 1976, until Barack Obama did so in 2008.

The presidential public financing system is funded by a $3 tax check-off on individual tax returns (the check off does not increase the filer’s taxes, but merely directs $3 to the presidential fund). However, the number of taxpayers who use the check off has fallen steadily since the early 1980s, and in 2006 fewer than 8 percent of taxpayers were directing money to the fund.

Fund Raising on the Internet

In the 2004 presidential election, Senator Kerry broke the internet record by raising $3 million through the internet in a single day. By the end of June 2004, Kerry had raised $44 million through mail and phone solicitations and more than $56 million over the Internet. The 2008 presidential election took another major jump when Barack Obama raised $650 million for his election, more than twice as much as any other candidate in U.S. history, and much of that money came through the internet.

Internet fundraising offers several important advantages. First, it is the cheapest method of raising money. Second, the average contribution on the internet is far less than the $2,000 legal limit per individual, so the campaign can continue to solicit contributions from the same donor throughout the election.

On November 20, 2008, the Washington Post stated the following incredible statistic: “Barack Obama raised half a billion dollars online in his 21-month campaign for the White House, dramatically ushering in a new digital era in presidential fundraising.”

What Does it All Mean?

The ever expanding costs to get elected raise a number of troubling issues and problems:

o The rise in costs to elect candidates to federal positions has been staggering since the 1990’s. Without spending limits, candidates have a rising minimum spending floor to win the election. They likely have to spend more money than it took to elect the last candidate to run for that office.

o Politicians need donations from all sources to accumulate the amount of money necessary to win office. Once elected, politicians need to assure the donors that their money was well placed, or they will not get donations for re-election. Plainly stated, donations buy access to politicians.

The end result is, there are two kinds of politicians with enough money win election:

o Politicians that are wealthy individuals, or

o Politicians that raise the most cash through contributions.

Do we really want only the wealthy running our country? No. So we are left with politicians bought and paid for by campaign contributors.