As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thanks Early Primary System and Big Money!

We're getting Presidential candidates who are dropping out in February:

Democrat Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who built a centrist image, abandoned his bid for the presidency on Friday after struggling against better-known, better-financed rivals.

"It is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving today," Vilsack told reporters at a news conference, later adding, "We have a debt we're going to have to work our way through."

Vilsack, 56, left office in January and traveled to early voting states, but he attracted neither the attention nor the campaign cash of his top-tier rivals — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) and John Edwards.

In the most recent financial documents, Vilsack reported raising more than $1.1 million in the last seven weeks of 2006 but only had around $396,000 in the bank. Some campaign finance experts contend candidates will need $20 million by June 2007 to remain viable.

Vilsack kind of sunk his own ship by calling for the indexing of Social Security to prices rather than wages, which would essentially kill the whole program as a retirement safety net. But that just happened two days ago. Surely that wasn't the reason for his dropping out.

The reason was that we have this crazy primary schedule that rewards only the celebrity candidates. There is no better example than this. Vilsack is a moderate governor of a swing state. There's not much of a difference between his background and that of, say, Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. But he simply cannot compete and has to leave a year early. This is crippling to democracy, that you have to be a rock star before even thinking about running.

I finally saw Idiocracy last night (which is a killer premise that I think you actually can't make into a good film), and the President in 2505 is a former wrestling champion and porn star. I'm not saying that's EXACTLY where we're headed, but certainly there's this move toward candidate-as-celeb that is really disturbing. I wasn't really a Vilsack supporter - he chaired the DLC at a time when they shouted down any antiwar Democrats, and then he tried to claim he was against the war and demanded the Congress to do more? - but it's how the process is going that bothers me.

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