Is it possible that money spent in a campaign can be irrelevant to the results? We have a chance to test that proposition in the Presidential campaign of one Mark Stewart, who declared in November.
Stewart knows the odds of being elected president are long. But he has two very realistic “make a difference” goals:
spur new candidates to unseat Congressional incumbents
help the national press reduce their adulation for the current Democrat candidates.
Stewart contends they are all socialists. “Mr. Sanders at least admits to being a socialist. Biden, Clinton, and O'Malley want nearly the same forced redistribution policies that hardened socialists desire”, says Stewart. “The Socialist Party leaders of 80 – 100 years ago couldn't have imagined ACA (Obamacare) and unrestricted TANF (food stamps) as reality. But that's what today's progressive leadership have foisted upon us.”
As for money spent in Presidential campaigns, the proposition that money might not matter goes this way: money doesn't vote, only citizens do. And citizens are not stupid. A repulsive candidate will not be elected no matter how much money he or she spends.
Stewart admits that money matters to get the unknown candidates on the ballot and noticed in the first place. Yes, you need paid signature gatherers to get on the ballot for congress, but that is no more than $30,000. And he admits that at the presidential level, fund-raising and the appearance of continued fund-raising seem to move media. Without big fund-raising, you need some sort of hook to get the media's attention at the presidential level. Stewart's hoped-for hook is his brazen attitudes about our governance:
“our Trustees of Social Security, that's ultimately Congress, subtract no better than 3rd graders”.
“Congress has allowed this country to be INVADED” (by illegal immigrants).
“Obama has been the worst president for Blacks since James Buchanan” (1857-1861).
“At most 10% of our current Congress understand the Constitution”.
Mr. Stewart is especially passionate on the final one, for the Constitution permits almost none of the major congressional legislation over the last 50 years. “Reverence for the Constitution is more than just 'following the law'. The Constitution is eminently WISE.”
And yes, the Constitution permits unlimited campaign funding, even though the Supreme Court ot times disagrees. Were the Courts to agree, Stewart's campaign would appear even more miniscule. “But I'd gain more cred – we need a fiscally-responsible president, and I'd be the one candidate showing it throughout. I'm the one who doesn't want your money. $10, $20 or $50 shows your sincere support. You are giving up a nice dinner, or a simple lunch. Want to give more than that? Take out radio ads on my behalf.”
Stewart's fundraising proposition for the simple “i support you but am not trying to influence you” is to ask voters to donate lunch money, literally $5 - $15. Stewart thinks this broad-but-not-deep support is sufficient to impress media and other voters, even if it doesn't impress big donors. "Impressing real voters is all that's needed - Big Money doesn't vote." Stewart also reminds us: "the most important part of this campaign is inspiring true citizens to run for Congress. At the Congressional level, big money shouldn't matter, so long as voters pay attention.”
This is Stewart's great plea: “pay attention”. Keep your eye on the ball. Domestically, Congress is more important than the President. Note how your incumbent votes. Be prepared to throw him out in 2 years. “Seniority be damned; our senior leaders have us $70 trillion in debt, which the next generation almost certainly can't overcome. We need new in spirit, if not age. I hope to see 90% of incumbents ousted in 2016. America will be better off governed by high school drop-outs than the politically-connected, constitutionally-obtuse sellouts we have now.”
Ultimately, Stewart is a happy warrior. “America is great despite its government. We can make it greater still, and with it increase prosperity, freedom and happiness.”
The effect of Campaign donations: Counts and Accounts
Large donations might now be an albatross. Though many in the MEDIA still measure a candidate's "viability" by the size of his bank account, more and more VOTERs measure a candidate without respect to wallet size.
Indeed, campaign fundraising might now be INVERSELY related to voter sentiment.
In this decade where 1) Crony Capitalism has been exposed, 2) voters can pay better attention, and 3) muckraking is done by YouTube, the candidate who is flush with other people's money is a liability to many of us.
Highly financed campaigns are indications that you've been bought. Make no mistake, nobody gives $100,000 just to be entertained by your 40 minute speech. They are buying influence.
Finally, enough voters are on to you. And it's VOTERS that matter. Remember, money doesn't pull levers at voting booths; voters do.
This year it's evident -- Scott Walker raised a quick $7.5 million, and dropped out in September. Jeb Bush has raised $100,000,000 and his campaign is gasping for voters.
Sentiment matters more than money
That's the proposition behind the Stewart campaign. Mr. Stewart is deliberately spending very little money. Even if he raises gobs of it, he will husband it for the late primary states. He refuses to acknowledge who large contributors are. If elected, his staffers will identify only the name of a contributor, not an amount.
Stewart and Resistance candidates following in his wake assure that no big-wallet organization has any more sway than those who oppose that org. Stewart is pledged to staying far from the influence of the "Political-Industrial Establishment". He even goes so far as to call them the "Political-Industrial Governments " (the "Pigs"). He thinks voters are keen for candidates who DON'T make a point of lauding how much money they've raised
That money might NOT matter has some evidence already. "Remember, Herman Cain was the Republican front-runner four years ago. He was not a political officeholder he was a relative unknown. I have a better chance of breaking out than Herman Cain did because I'm breaking out against the lightning-rod called Hillary Clinton". Stewart can live off the land for targeting the February contests.
The number one element is earned media. So what Stewart lacks in spending, he makes up in taking every radio interview possible. Does he even want your donation? "Here's my message: if people want to donate, they can donate their TIME. Time spreading sentiments is more valuable than money. So if you would like to contribute $500 to the Stewart for Liberty campaign, contribute FIRST your words on a blog. On the radio buy airtime!"
To Mr. Stewart, $500 with sentiment is "meaningful money". $500 without is still welcome, but that will go to the "Final Four Fund", which is Stewart's idea for targeting the late primaries.
"I may need you to get to California, but for the first primaries, money is a sign of a bad public servant. Those who raise a lot of money are being BOUGHT by those who have favors expected of them. Someone who can run a campaign on a shoestring is an asset. I can prove it and in the process maybe stand for the proposition that big money is no longer necessary."