As the political process unfolds with the march toward the November elections, the competition for campaign finances grows more intense. Once can hardly open the mail or answer the phone without being greeted by an invitation to attend a fundraising event, or to simply mail a check. With funding appeals from city, township, county, state and federal office-seekers filling the air, it is too easy to become overly cynical about the entire process. It may be time to remind ourselves of what is at stake.
A large portion of the cynicism comes from a general dissatisfaction with the choice of candidates that are often on the menu. During the ’92 presidential campaign there was a groundswell of support for a “none of the above” box on the national ballot. Virginians selecting their senatorial candidates this November have much of the same sentiment. The question most asked is, “Where are the high quality candidates? ” Simply put, there are many who would serve if it were not for the necessity of fundraising. Consequently, it is often the case that the best fundraisers become the most viable candidates. While being a good fundraiser should not be a disqualifying attribute, neither should it automatically qualify one to represent the best interests of the people.
So, while we tire of the solicitations, we must remember that it takes encouragement to bring competent candidates into the public arena, and that encouragement must come in the form of a check. The price of good government is expensive enough; the price of bad government is even higher. Republicans appear to be in a position to recapture control of our institutions, as well as the control of the powerful committees that presently determine the legislative agenda. Democrats content that a strong Republican showing in November will only result in a return to gridlock. Controlling the Oval Office is of little consequence when the national purse, as well as the power to control appointments to the courts, is controlled by the opposition.
Political pundits of both parties agree that the November elections will narrow the Democratic margin in Washington, though they argue as to the degree. I suspect that both parties have underestimated the degree of change that could occur. If the Republican candidates are effective in their rhetoric, and if they have the necessary financial support they need, the balance of power could very will swing to the Right, creating majorities in both the House and the Senate.
If if is true, that citizens get the kind of government they deserve, the November elections could be very revealing. The war of ideas is up for grabs, and the citizens are in a position to determine the outcome by providing financial support to the candidates of their choice. Most certainly, there will be a consequence to apathy.