Another chapter in the former Gov. Buddy Roemer campaign hypocrisy tome has gotten written, but maybe an appropriate epilogue will come with the elimination of a needless appendage of American national politics.
Roemer, running for president, recently has managed an impressive double feat of saying one thing and then doing another. His campaign has railed against what he says is excessive money, connoting power, in politics, and placed a voluntary $100 limit on accepting contributions. Yet Roemer, who has a political history of promising one thing then backtracking and comes from money and influence, hypocritically has embraced any method that raises and spends money on his behalf, first by saying he would ride on the coattails of the big-money Americans Elect group that seeks to pay for providing ballot access to candidate possibilities they choose and then submit for selection of one by Internet balloting. Now, he has accepted money from the federal government, by qualifying for public funding of a presidential primary campaign.
But he did so on the basis of misleading the public.
In his filing statement, he stated he qualified by virtue of running for the Republican nomination. Yet last week he ditched the GOP, repeating his desire to compete for the AE opportunity or that he would seek something like the moribund Reform Party nomination. As qualification for public matching funding, essentially doubling every contribution from now on $250 and under (practically speaking, doubling every contribution he gets as they will all be $100 or less), Roemer had to demonstrate he could raise at least $5,000 in at least each of 20 states in contributions of $250 or less. How many of those donors gave to him on the presumption he was vying for the GOP nomination, and would not have otherwise? Simply, he used some people in order to stick his nose into the public trough.
In Roemer’s world, people exercising their free speech rights by donating however much they see fit, while limited with campaigns but unlimited to political organizations that advocate for candidates and issues, somehow are evil or corrupt, while the moral action to him is to have the state subsidize his speech beyond what the free marketplace of ideas would grant. If he can’t see the contradiction here, this myopia surely discredits any claim that he possesses the intellect or self-awareness to occupy the nation’s highest office.
So the irony now continues, with Roemer accepting big money from the federal government to campaign even as he claims that is the central problem with government. But maybe the taint he brings to that enterprise will provide the final impetus to junking the post-Watergate-inspired system of public funding presidential campaigns. Conceived out of the same naïveté that Roemer internalizes, the system has become obsolete in that presidential candidates figured out by 2004 they could raise more money on their own, thereby spend, that the law every could provide them.
Why, then, should taxpayers subsidize the likes of Roemer – who by saying “What are my chances -- 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent. But, who cares. We're making a point …” has started to admit he is becoming a professional campaigner like the man he could not defeat in a statewide race, David Duke? We don’t owe him any chance to practice self-actualization and continue his own eccentric kind of personal growth courtesy of the people’s resources.
It’s time to bury this anachronism and its waste of federal government resources, letting the marketplace determine which ideas, expressed by candidates, receive backing appropriate to their quality. H.R. 3463 in Congress appropriately does so; having passed the House, the Senate has stalled it. The Roemer example perhaps can supply the last push to get it repealed.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:30