That about says it all when it comes to politics in this country. If you want to live the life of a President, you need to have dead Presidents – many dead presidents. ( For those of you not up on the latest hip lingo, dead Presidents refer to the faces you find on the bills we use as currency – Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington ).
This fact of life was hammered home this past weekend when forner Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack – a Pittsburgh native – pulled out of the Democratic race for the White House a full 12 months before the first primary was set to take place. Vilsack seemed to be a candidate who actually had a slate of good ideas for reinvigorating the country and changing the way business is done in Washington. Of course, we will never get to hear those ideas and decide for ourselves. Vilsack ended his campaign — because of lack of money. Not so much the lack of money on hand, but the inability to attract the kinds of dollars that would allow him to compete with the multi-million dollar war chests that belong to better known contenders Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama.
Now I’m not some pollyanna when it comes to the political world we live in — a world where candidates spend millions for a job that pays $400,000 a year before taxes. But there seems something wrong with a country which has always stressed that anyone could be President now realizing that unless you are rich or well-connected, you can’t even join the conversation. Let me put it another way: there is no way Abraham Lincoln would even be able to step to the political table in this day in age.
Will it change? Probably not. We can talk about campaign finance reform until we are blue in the face and nothing will ever happen. It just bothers me that we are going to have to watch an entire year of campaigning — or millions being spent — before the first vote is cast and know that our only choices are those who can afford to be in the race, not those who bring ideas which might change the shape of the race.