What would you do with $119 million? More than likely you would find some extravagant way to spend it upon yourself, which is exactly what California Republican candidate Meg Whitman did. Whitman set the record for personally funding a U.S. political campaign, beating the previous record holder, billionaire and three-term New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who reportedly spent over $100 million on his campaign.
According to recent campaign finance reports Whitman has so far spent in excess of $119 million.Shocked? Well you should be especially considering the California governor's salary is only about $200,000 a year.
These big-time politicians and high-level executives have made it almost impossible for the average American to be a recognized candidate for office. Sure, one may run for office in a publicly funded campaign but can it hardly compete with someone who drops millions of dollars so effortlessly? It seems that the fundamental ideal that anyone should be able to participate in government has been eroded by the power and ambition of billionaires. Democracy has been bought out.
Whitman certainly has a plan to change California, and her funds derived from her work at EBay have certainly paid off. Wherever you go Meg Whitman can be found: In commercials, on billboards, web advertisements, the news, mail and even that archaic and outdated twentieth century, noise-maker thing called a radio. But you have got to give it to her, everyone in California knows her name and knows her game.
But is this fair? What would the Founding Fathers say about this in terms of a fair and democratic society for all? Although I cannot speak for them (R.I.P. Jefferson), it seems evident they would find this behavior ridiculous. It goes against the idea that America would be a land free from the tyrannical rule of the elite. That every individual rich or poor, has an equal opportunity to represent and serve their country. Voters should want a candidate in office based on their platform and ideals, not the power of their pocketbooks. It seems as though politics are a dirty, dirty game.
Every member of office should represent their community and be an example of the system at its' best. How can anyone take someone seriously who spends $119 million on themselves? It can be said a better impression might have been made if she contributed those funds to a charity or starving children in Africa.
Whitman is not the first to spend millions on a campaign, and I realize that it is part of her job as a candidate to be seen and garner attention. I just don't believe that anyone can compete with the likes of the extremely wealthy and this certainly threatens the very existence of a fair, balanced and accessible democratic process.
The definition of democracy goes something like this: democracy is a government of the people, by the people, where the supreme power is vested in the people. Or in modern English, the power of democracy is found within the masses, and is represented by elected officials whom WE decide is the best representative through FREE elections. Nothing is said of who has the most cash, or the most campaign power. It is vital to question who we appoint to represent California. What we accomplish as a state and as a nation is dependent upon who represents the common individual. Let us be certain it is not those who have bought out democracy.