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Monday, October 25, 2010

Presidents and the Last 40 Years

"Running a campaign to win a presidential primary can range in cost from $50 million US Dollars (USD) to over $100 million USD. By itself, this cost is already enormous. However, there’s even more that must be spent to run for president. Once the primaries are over and the nominees begin their campaigns to win the general election, an additional $75 million USD is typically spent."  (N. Madison, "How Much Does It Cost to Run for President?, September 2010)

In some elections, candidates have decided to raise all their own money to run for president. When a candidate decides to forgo federal fund matching and raise all of his own money, he is not required to limit spending or spread funds out geographically. In fact, President George W. Bush opted to raise his own money in the 2000 election and secured about $100 million USD. This amount was actually twice the sum candidates were restricted to if they opted for federal fund matching in the 2000 election. 

What Do We Get From the Office of the Presidency?

The last 40 years of the presidency has featured some pretty infamous and unaccomplished leaders. During this time, eight different politicians have taken over the reins of the government mule, and the United States has fallen deeper into debt and, seemingly, deeper into despair.

I wonder sometimes what the American history books will publish as the major achievements while in office of each of the last eight men  Here is a list of the presidents during those years. I know this is entirely unfair and completely juvenile; however, let's play "free word" association with each name (first word that comes to mind). Trust me. I know each president has done wonderful things while in office; however, what is your FIRST word associated with each man.

37. Richard Milhous Nixon (1969-1974) 

38. Gerald Rudolph Ford (1974-1977) 

39. James Earl Carter, Jr. (1977-1981) 

40. Ronald Wilson Reagan (1981-1989) 

41. George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993)  

42. William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001) 

43. George Walker Bush (2001-2009) 

44. Barrack Hussain Obama (2009- present)
Does your word association have any descriptive language? I know mine did. Nixon- liar; Ford- clumsy; Carter- peanuts; Reagan- conservative; George H. Bush- Iraq; Bill Clinton- blow job; George W. Bush- foolish; and Barack Obama- black. Hardly a complimentary word game for politicians and presidents.

My list probably could have read: Nixon- China; Ford- Brezhnev; Carter- compassionate; Reagan- communicator; George H.- Gorbachev; Clinton- low inflation; George W.- Department of Homeland Security; and Obama- improved health care. But my first impressions were very different.

I'm sure a detailed description of the power and sway of the media could account for some of my pessimism, but my distaste is more than that. Trust in the federal government rises and falls depending on levels of crime, the health of the economy, and other trends in public affairs.

People in the United States harbor an overall unhappiness about the state of the nation, presidential politics, financially pressed independents, and dim views of elected officials. 

A recent Pew Research Center survey reports, "Only 22 percent of those surveyed said they can trust the federal government "almost always or most of the time,"19 percent said they are "basically content" with the government, a number unchanged from recent years, while 56 percent said they are frustrated." (Huma Kahn, "Distrust In Government Skyrockets, Survey Finds," ABC News, April 19 2010)

The survey also finds about 43 percent said that government had a negative effect on their daily lives, a startling jump from 13 years ago when only 31 percent expressed similar sentiments in the poll. The number of people who felt the federal government threatened their personal freedom also rose to 30 percent, up from 18 percent in a 2003 ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed expressed a favorable opinion of Congress, the lowest favorable rating in this survey in a quarter century. Less than half, or 40 percent, said the administration is doing a good job. Only 17 percent said the same about Congress.

"Large majorities across partisan lines see elected officials as not careful with the government's money, influenced by special interest money, overly concerned about their own careers, unwilling to compromise and out of touch with regular Americans," Pew researchers wrote. (Huma Kahn, "Distrust In Government Skyrockets, Survey Finds," ABC News, April 19 2010)

 Why Do So Many Americans Hate Politic?

Thomas Patterson writes in detail about the following reasons in his History News Network series Where Have All the Voters Gone? (George Mason University, November 25 2002) Link -

1. They suffer a cumulative effect of negative politics, campaign after campaign

2. Politics are characterized by promises-endless promises. Unlike their predecessors in the age of party-centered politics, today's candidates are unable to campaign on broad statements of principle within the context of a reliable base of party loyalists.

3. People feel most politicians will say almost anything to get themselves elected.

4. Modern-day politics also exalts personality, increasing the likelihood that personal blunders and failings will loom large in campaigns. 

5. The length of the modern campaign is also a turnoff for many  

6. Politician supports cause. Business supports politician. Business supports politician's cause. It's a fact of life.   

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