On money and the run for office
To the Editor:
Americans were never meant to be “professional” politicians and were never meant to be governed by elitists. Over time, however, campaigning has become a multibillion-dollar business and prohibitively expensive for good ordinary folks who might otherwise run for office. Multi-term politicians have an advantage since they are known and have likely accumulated a hefty campaign fund. They have (and continue to attract) wealthy sponsors and large corporate donors all seeking to have their agendas represented — so long as the politician doesn’t somehow become publicly discredited or disgraced, and therefore forced out by their party. Unfortunately, however, for voters, it means choosing from a thin (and sometimes undesirable) list of candidates.
Once in a while, however, a candidate tips the scale and defeats a long-term powerful elected officeholder. In New Jersey this past election, State Senate President Steve Sweeney lost his seat to a truck driver named Ed Durr. Durr spent only $2,300 while Sweeney spent $305,000. Voters should be interested in getting more folks like Durr to run and win an election where the candidate hasn’t somehow attracted wealthy sponsors.
American voters should want to elect politicians willing to serve the public at large and not large donor sponsors. Unspent donated campaign dollars should be returned to a fund helping ordinary folks get elected without large donor sponsorship. This, together with limiting the number of times an elected official spends in office, would level the election playing field and result in a better list of candidate choices for voters.