Thursday, June 19, 2008

Disappointed with Obama

It's not unexpected, given how well BO has done without public funding, but the announcement today that he's going back on his promise to use public funds really disappoints me.

The argument, as I understand it, goes like this:
"Even if the Republicans agree to take public funding, they haven't agreed to shut down all 527 activity. I've already taken 527's off the table, while 527's are likely to be an asset to a party representing folks who have a lot of money to spend. Because there would be disparity if we took public funding (because the Republicans would have 527's and I wouldn't), I'm choosing to keep my advantage of private funding."

It's a cogent utilitarian argument: The ends justify the means, and since reneging will get me elected, while sticking to my word might give my opponent an advantage, I'm reneging.

This is not what I voted for. I voted for principle over expediency. I'm really disappointed, and I'm not sure what to do about it yet.

The fact is that public funding would have helped McCain. I'm pretty sure he's short of $80M right now. Barack could have used the 527 condition to accept the public funding: Both parties will officially and jointly condemn all 527-generated political ads and activity, and publicly promise to disavow and condemn any and all communications arising from them. In return, both agree to take only public funds, and the campaign becomes a contest of ideas, not media budgets.

It's not that you win, it's how you win that matters. I may have to declare myself done contributing to the campaign over this move.