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Money can buy political victory

Published February 04. 2012 09:01AM

My grandfather told me that any politician could be bought. He would cite examples of well-known politicians who were manipulated by the rich and famous. Once he pointed these politicians out, I would follow their actions over time to see if my grandfather had it right or if he was wrong. In most cases, he was correct. In fact, as a young man I was often able to predict how a particular politician would vote on a certain issue based on who was pulling his strings. In this day and age, it is unlikely that politicians are actually being bought. Instead, they are susceptible to lobbyists. They also are careful not to offend their political donors and the political action committees that support them.

The amount of money that a politician collects can influence the outcome at the polls. Rather than support my grandfather's claim, I would like to look at the other side of the coin. Do politicians buy the votes of the electorate? At first glance, most of us would say this is no longer done. Laws were enacted to make purchasing of votes illegal. I contend that these laws are outdated and no longer reflect the changes to society as we now know it. Mass media, the Internet and social networks can have a great influence over voters. Lets look at the campaign funding for Mitt Romney. He has received more than 4 times the funding of his closest competitor, Newt Gingrich. Romney used some of this money to purchase over 12,000 commercials in the Florida primary. The impoverished Newt Gingrich was only able to purchase 200 commercials.

Romney received 46 percent of the vote, tromping Gingrich who received only 32 percent. This very wide margin cannot be attributed to differences in platform. Much of their platform is similar. I conclude that Romney was able to increase his name recognition through his commercials. When people went to the polling booths, they picked the name that was most familiar to them. In my opinion, most voters cannot differentiate between the platforms of the various contenders. As we move forward to other primaries I am very concerned that the best person with the best platform may not be selected as the Republican nominee for the presidency. Instead, the nominee will be the person who spends the most money on advertising campaigns and name recognition.

Prior to voting in elections, I prepare a summary of each candidate's position to assist my wife and me in selecting the candidates that will receive our votes. I summarize the Republican, the Democrat, and independent candidates for each office. It is relatively easy to do this for state and federal candidates. The time-consuming part is the township and county elections. Local candidates positions are difficult to find and are often very vaguely worded. This does not stop me from preparing my positions paper but it does increase the amount of time it takes. Fortunately for me, the platforms of the major candidates in the Republican primary have already been summarized. ( This makes the comparison process simple indeed. I will still have to check the candidate's websites to ensure that the summary is accurate and fairly presented.

Over the last few years, I have watched the two front-runners change their platforms to be more attractive to the voters. Romney's flip-flop on healthcare concerns me. As governor of Massachusetts he signed RomneyCare into law. This was the basis for ObamaCare, which he does not support. I have heard his defense of this and I accept his position that healthcare should be done at the state level. He also supports a private insurance mandate instead of Medicare. Newt Gingrich is a brilliant man and outshines the others most of the time. Unfortunately, he occasionally speaks without thinking and says some pretty dumb things. I think Newt would be the most intelligent president of the century, but I don't think he is electable.

When I compared the candidate's platform I was surprised to find I preferred Rick Santorum and Ron Paul to the other two candidates. I have issues with both platforms. Santorum's views on abortion are outdated and Ron Paul's desire to eliminate the Fed would be difficult to implement. What we really need is for better candidates to enter the race.

The Republican Party has not presented candidates who can win at the polls on November 6. We need a Republican "John F. Kennedy" who can capture the hearts of the people and unified the electorate. JFK's famous quote still rings in my ears, even after 51 years. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country". He was able to rally the American people to focus on what we needed as a nation. He was a real leader and we need a candidate like him right now!

We need someone who is not a retread, and who has fresh ideas for the challenging world in which we live. We need a candidate who can put American interests first, restore our economy, create the jobs we need, and withdraw our troops from senseless wars in godforsaken parts of the earth. Governor Chris Christie is such a man however he has no interest in running until 2016. He wants to finish his term as governor as he promised his constituents he would. By gosh, a politician who keeps his word! This is such a rarity in today's political arena.

I would like to see several new candidates enter the race. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe the time is right for a brokered Republican convention. Between now and the convention in August we must scrutinize all potential Republican candidates to determine the best candidate for the country. It must be someone we can all stand behind whether we vote Democrat, independent, or Republican. The upcoming election is extremely important. Without an outstanding candidate, President Obama will win a second term. In one term he has already destroyed the economy and negated the power of the Congress through executive orders. If elected to a second term, he may do irreparable damage to our country and the constitution.

We need a president who can restore our confidence and faith in our government. This president must also be able to demonstrate to the rest of the world that America is back stronger than ever. Whether we like it or not, it is our country that must lead the world out of the recession and into prosperity. This cannot be done by bailing out countries like Greece and Portugal and Italy. Rather it must be done by restoring free trade and international commerce. When the economy flourishes, businesses expand and hire people. This reduces the economic drain of unemployment and increases the tax base as people return to work. This in turn will reduce the deficits that are crippling governments around the world.

The selection of the Republican candidate in the 2012 election is one of the most important decisions that must be made in this decade. It should not be made based on the amount of money spent by a candidate. We must determine the candidate who can not only win the election but also win the hearts of the American people.

© 2012 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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