As I watched the race between now Sen. Scott Brown and Massachussetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, I couldnâ€™t help but notice one thing: even in a recession, people will continue to throw money at politicians for election.
Most of you have felt the problems of the recession, and you know how tight money is and how hard it is to make ends meet.
Right now there are millions of people who are displaced in Haiti, dying because they have no food, water or access to medical care. There are people dying in Africa due to AIDS and malaria, and in our own country there are millions who live in poverty.
People give money to candidates for them to spend on advertising, trips, dinners and attacks on the other candidate. If you really wanted to help people, you would donate to a non-profit, like the Red Cross, helping to solve the problems mentioned.
Now please donâ€™t misunderstand. I know that candidates must raise some money to promote themselves, and you as a citizen have a right to donate. Why is it that we constantly cry about politicians, these â€œscum-bags,â€ yet we give them our hard-earned money?
In Obamaâ€™s campaign for president, he raised nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars, according to the National Public Radio. That is an astounding number. And this does not even include the money other politicians spent in 2008.
Now letâ€™s think about this. I want you to imagine that kind of money. Now I want you to think about how annoying those negative political ads were. Now thank yourself for it.
In a poll conducted by USA Today in October of 2008, people were asked if they thought too much had been spent on political campaigns. Seventy percent said, â€œyes.â€ My question is if you think this, why are you donating?
The second question asked, â€œshould spending be limited or should candidates be able to spend whatever they can raise?â€
Fifty seven percent of the people thought spending should be limited.
I agree that the government and the state government need to set a limit on the amount of money that can be spent. If you raise more money than you are allowed to spend, you can spend that money on a charity to help those in the U.S. or elsewhere.
I am not sure how to figure out what the cap should be, but I personally feel candidates should only be allowed to air ads about themselves and not others. Many times, candidates air so many negative ads about their opponents that the average person who only gained his or her political knowledge from these ads, would indeed have no idea what the candidate who was running the ad stood for.
It is very frustrating for me to see this kind of money thrown around. I certainly agree that some money is needed, but three-quarters of a billion dollars? Here is the real kicker. What happens to the money that is not spent? Where does it go?
Next time you get that campaign letter in the mail, I want you to think about where you are sending your dollars. If you decide you want to give money to someone, will it do more good to spend it on a candidate or on a non-profit that is dedicated to helping people?
Some people would argue that politicians do help people, and Iâ€™m sure some of them do. However, I feel for the most part they all have their own personal agendaâ€™s and the constituents really donâ€™t matter.
So when I get my â€œplease donate to this candidate e-mail or letter,â€ I plan on deleting it, and if I have the ability, finding a non-profit to donate to. Just think about it.
Robyn Scherer is a senior animal science, agricultural business and journalism and technical communication major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.