Campaign Conundrum – part 2 of 2
The “Follow The Money” principle also applies to political campaigns. The power of incumbency is there because, you guessed it, “it’s all about the money”. Politicians in power use that position to acquire huge sums of cash because of what they have done for certain groups or individuals or what they are being asked to do. It is a system that works exactly the opposite for challengers. If the incumbent is caught in some scandal or has not represented his constituency at large well, he or she can still remain in office through the sheer power of choking off financial resources to a challenger.
Citizens who are asked to support a challenger are often wary to contribute because of the power of incumbency (the Ted Kennedy Seat). They reason, “the person in office has a lot of campaign cash” or “he/she has the ear of powerful people” (Scott Brown) or “there’s no way to beat him/her” (Massachusetts Senate Race). They complain the rest of the time about there being no one to challenge the incumbent, but refuse to support a candidate (31 points down with a month to go) who does want to mount a creditable race.
Thus, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one will ever take on the incumbent, yet most, when asked, refuse to financially support ($1.4 million in contributions in one day) the challenger because, they reason, “he/she can’t win in this district/state/city” (Six Point Win). So, we have inadvertently created a system where only challengers who are personally financed can compete.
If you want to know why there is seldom a creditable challenger for which to vote, follow the money. Or the lack of it. We must ask ourselves if we are ready to support a challenger and do the things necessary to break the cycle.