I've been reading as other bloggers had exciting, motivating, and informational meetings with politicians. Momocrats and other political bloggers have been excellent sources of information and opinions as we try to sort through a rather crowded field of candidates for the next major election.
Written platforms, news articles, appearances in debates on television and so forth are all well and good, but there is something to be said for a more personal, face-to-face venue.
I was fortunate enough to meet Hilary Clinton in Nashua, NH, and it gave me a better idea of who she is...that chance to be in person.
Therefore, I was extremely pleased to get an invitation to lunch with Barack Obama in a private Houston home.
Barack Obama is one of the greenest of the candidates and I can't decide if that's a pro or con. He certainly says some extremely intriguing things, although it seems lately his message has been a bit watered down, if consistent.
I imagine Howard Dean is still fresh in everyone's mind.
A small venue lunch at a home seemed like a perfect opportunity to get a better idea of who Mr. Obama is, and whether he is a good possibility as a future president of the United States.
Then I saw the fine print: only a $2300 donation required.
My friends, if I had $2300 I'd: replace my flooring, master bath, backyard drainage, install new windows...and so on.
I was ready to delete the invitation in disgust, then I considered replying with disgust, and then I stopped and thought.
Politics is a game of strategy that requires large budgets. This is unfortunate, because it puts the focus on the money, but true. Candidates must buy their way into office.
Thus, people must buy their way into candidate's company.
It's a good way to create a win-win: candidate gets some more dough for the pot and people who want to bend his or her ear for a bit get the chance. Attendees might also even get a money shot of standing alongside said candidate.
David Westcott, "politcal hack/PR flack" (in his own words) recently wrote, "Women are so important in politics today that my company even tracks and aggregates the discussions taking place on “political mom” blogs. We need you a lot more than you need us..."
I asked him, "If women are so essential in politics, why are they so ignored by politicians? Who came to BlogHer versus who came to Kos?"
I mean ever since the soccer mom craze, there hasn't been much appeal to women, nor has there been a focus or priority.
At BlogHer, candidates had the opportunity to hit a large group of very active and involved women who do, on the whole, vote.
Instead, they went to Yearly Kos, a more male dominated venue. Where, they heard, they were more likely to get donations.
Has money become more important than votes? Do candidates assume that with money they can buy votes?
Each time I vote it increasingly feels like a compromise, and with each passing year I feel more and more marginalized.
David validated this sensation when he replied, "...you’re right about the politicians not showing moms who blog enough respect and it’s for one simple reason - political blogs like Daily Kos raise a lot of money for candidates, mom blogs don’t. The campaigns are only starting to understand the non-financial value of engaging moms (and others) online. Only a handful of people get it now but more will after 2008."
I hope David is right.
Because I missed lunch with Barack Obama. I couldn't pick up the tab.
$2300 is so far out of my reach it's not even funny. So, more or less, priority-wise, is the $500 that would have bought me a place against the wall when he spoke (missing the reception).
Had the price tag been lower, it might have been a harder decision to make. I might have scrambled.
These days it seems that politicians don't (can't) value people who can't afford to buy their way into their company. (The little people, who, statistically, are women.)
The feeling might be mutual.
I think this system---of politics are for the very rich and privileged, as is access to politicians---explains a lot about what to the vast majority of the US seems like bad or incomprehensible decisions by politicians. Their circles don't encompass a fair representation of all people; and you tend to think what you are surrounded by is a fair idea of reality. It's not.
What if I assumed that everyone had the same lifestyle, priorities, needs and ideas as I did: a middle class mom who owns her own business, writes in a blog, lives in an environmentally disgusting town full of friendly people so nice lots of folks still don't worry about locking their doors?
That's not reality for most people. Our concerns and stances on issues won't per se match up...at least not in priority.
My priorities are: health care, environment and education.
I want more and better care paid to all three. I want a leader who isn't afraid to sign in health care for kids. I don't want to hear another story like this one from my good friend: Healthcare is a bitch.
I want a leader who is willing to quit taking with one hand and withholding with the other when it comes to the environment. Get tough people. It's not a joke. We need to clean up our acts. There are more environmentally caused health issues than we realize.
I want to send my daughter to a school that has no agenda and only one priority: the best education for her. And I want it to be a public school where she gets group influences, and education from a variety of people. Schools need adequate funding, but they also need better---and less political---funding management. If schools could buy art supplies instead of state mandated plastic red ribbon wristbands...well.
But Barack Obama missed hearing me say this.
Because it cost $2300 to tell him, and I don't have it.
Note: To be fair, I could have trailed Mr. Obama to Austin, where, for $25, I could have joined thousands of others to listen to his speech, which appears to have primarily focused on why nots for other candidates and war. My point is not the simple ability to see a candidate in person, while he speaks, but to have the opportunity to participate in back and forth discussion with a candidate. To be further fair, some politicians do make this a priority, such as Nick Lampson, who I have also had the privilege to meet with and engage in conversation with, in person. My criticism doesn't include local politicians, who I can easily chat with on a daily basis.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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