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The Excess of Election 2012

Welcome to our new contributor, the mysterious Lamp, and her inaugural post about campaign finance!

With just two weeks and one debate left until the 2012 Presidential election, I am busy taking stock of the issues, fact-checking advertisements, and trying to decide which candidate I will vote for in November. I am already upset by the fact that I have to choose between Big Bird and Michelle Obama, but something that has derailed me even more is the amount of money spent on the presidential campaigns.

According to the Washington Post Campaign Finance Explorer, President Barack Obama and the Democrats have raised 735 million dollars. In the other corner, Mitt Romney and the Republicans have raised 639 million dollars. And making the waters even greener, super PACs have raised 189 million dollars to spend on overt ads supporting or defaming the candidate of their choice. That brings the 2012 Presidential election campaign total to a whopping 1.563 billion dollars.

To make matters worse, almost half of this money is spent on advertising. Can you think of the last time you saw or heard a political ad that didn’t make you want to vomit? I sure can’t. And the other half of the money? It’s spent on mail, candidate travel, polling and other things that are not going to make a long-term, sustainable, or positive impact on society. In fact, because only one candidate can win this election, half of this money will amount to absolutely nothing.

1.563 billion dollars is a lot of money. It’s 2.5 times the amount of money spent on breast cancer research each year. It’s 5 times the amount of money that my alma mater uses to operate each year. And it’s 300 times the amount of money that Grassroot Soccer (an HIV prevention organization) uses to reach at risk children around the world each year.

I do care about politics. But I also care about breast cancer research, education and HIV prevention. And what really sets the latter causes apart from political campaigns is that I view them to be worthwhile, long-term investments. I understand that financially supporting a candidate could help them win an election, which might just help your voter preferences turn into policies. But let’s get real here – governing always takes a back seat to politics and I think investing in campaigns is the same thing as investing in politics, not government.

You might disagree with me completely. And if so, let me hear it. But if you do disagree with me, take a moment to think of something that really matters to you. And ask yourself, if you were a recent College graduate with short-to-no-spending money, would you rather invest in the cause you care about, or a political campaign where there is a 50% chance that your money will go towards a ridiculous political ad?

As for me, given the choice to invest in a political campaign or my alma mater, I would pick my alma mater every time.

Listening To: Lucky Soul – Ain’t Never Been Cool.

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