Does $20 mean squat to the candidate of my choice?

As I have been reminded by every Democratic presidential candidate website I’ve visited recently, June 30 is a crucial fundraising deadline. I’ve been urged to give anything I can to ensure that the candidate of my choice can stay in the race.

I’m mildly tempted to donate. I’ve never donated to a political campaign before, and this is the first year I could consider doing so. But I can’t give much – $20 at most.

Should I bother? Will a donation this small mean anything to my candidate? And does that answer change if I support Dean over Kerry, or Kucinich over Dean?

The probability that a $20 donation would affect the outcome of an election is essentially zero.

Therefore, it would not be rational for you to do so.

What’s June 30, the federal matching funds deadline? Then I’d say yeah, every dollar is important regardless of who your candidate is. Even if he or she doesn’t make the matching funds goal (or whatever other goal June 30 is the cutoff for) he or she can still use that donation to further the campaign.

There’s also the argument that a candidate who can raise x dollars in thousands of small donations has a broader base of support than one who raises it from a small handful.

Regrettably, that is exactly what the party in power would like one to believe. Apathy is the politician’s best friend and provides job security for the worst rascals. Subscribe to and to and find out what you can do to make a difference. The only way to stop feeling helpless is to get involved, regardless of the extent of that involvement. If 1000 people decide that maybe $20 might make a difference–bingo, $20,000 is raised. You do the math.

This is one of my thoughts. I also wonder if $20 is just enough for a candidate to spend sending me junk mail trying to get more money from me, which would probably not be forthcoming.

It’s the Federal Election Commission second quarter fund-raising deadline. I don’t think it means anything official, except that candidates will have to disclose how much money they’ve raised in the last quarter. Their perceived success or failure at raising that money impacts their potential viability as a candidate. Or so the theory goes.

The broad base of support argument is appealing, but I always wonder how much impact that really has. A broad base of support doesn’t buy you TV commercials – dollars buy you TV commercials.

I’m still considering this, but my cynicism is winning out.

Hmmm. If you take that statement further, you might conclude:

The probability that 1 vote would affect the outcome of an election is essentially zero. Therefore, it would not be rational for you to do so.

I hesitate to subscribe to such logic. I think we have to try to conceive of the collective act of donation (or voting as the case may be) as more significant than an individual act. After all, that is a fundamental aspect of democracy that I’m just not willing to concede (YET).

For my part, I donated 20.04 to Howard Dean and will consider it a miracle if he gets the nomination. But isn’t the principle of it worth something? Shouldn’t it matter to me that I’m involved? That I vote? What would happen if (when) no one does?

I’d be interested to hear other ways out of this dilemma…

That’s correct, Broodha. That’s why I never vote either, unless it’s something like mayor of my town where an individual vote could easily matter.

You can save yourself the trouble of voting and not be penalized for it because the outcome will almost certainly be the same, regardless of whether or not you participate.

Logical people don’t vote in national elections and they don’t make small campaign contributions.

Does one vote really count? The mayor of this city of over 200,000 won the recent election by .05%, or about 17 votes (doesn’t say much for voter turnout, I know). With voter turnout so dismal, your vote becomes extremely powerful, as does your donation and your voice. The brutal truth is that money buys elections; any other interpretation is a fantasy. Abdication and apathy has gotten us the worst of politicians. Activism has made them at least marginally responsive (witness Vietnam, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and the hopefully inevetible impeachment of George Bush). So…send your $20 and hope that you have done some good, or spend it on cheeseburgers and it’s guaranteed that nothing will change except your waistline.

I promise that I have not reduced my choices to Howard Dean vs. $20 worth of cheeseburgers.

Or something like the 2000 presidential election where New Mexico was decided by 256 votes or Florida was decided by less than 900 or Iowa was decided by 4100. You know, something like that.

Math lesson for Otto:

256 does not equal 1.

900 does not equal 1.

4100 does not equal 1.

Nobody’s individual vote mattered in any of those elections. Therefore, they would have been better off if they’d stayed home.

Can you say “tunnel vision”? Bet you can…

If $20 does mean anything to your candidate, he or she won’t be getting enough of them to win. If it doesn’t mean squat, then maybe he or she might win.

All this stuff about your vote counts, etc., etc. … I must be a cynic, because I really don’t buy it anymore. Yes, I vote in every election, mainly out of a sense of duty, but the way people vote is almost in direct proportion to what candidates spend, making me believe that ideas don’t matter for squat and most voters are complete morons.

$20? Please.

Speaking as a political fundraiser who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for my employer, I’d have to say yes, yes a hundred times yes! Every dollar counts.

June 30 is the FPPC deadline (believe me, I’ve been hustling) and it’s very important to have as much money as possible showing for your candidate. Money is how a candidate’s popularity and potential at winning is assessed and thus, directly effects the amount of additional support and/or endorsements that candidate will recieve. Those additional endorsements and contributions can literally make or break the candidate’s election.

If everyone had Surreal’s attitude, no one would vote. Period. I’ve never understood that attitude and it saddens me that one can feel that disenchanted and powerless.

In short, interro, I’d have to tell you to get that $20 in straightaway. I’d suggest doing it via walk-in to the campaign office, since the clock is ticking.

You can make a difference!

I just love the Surreal’s of the world, especially when their opinion diverges from mine. Every oponent who doesn’t vote is like an extra vote for me.

Hell, in a thousand years noone will know or care who you are. Why not slit your writsts?

In fact, the earth is such a miniscule part of the univers, why not blow up the whole place? It’s really nothing in the scope of things.

Nope. Better send it to me instead…

Civics lesson for Surreal:

If 257 New Mexicans were so ridiculously stupid as to believe “one vote doesn’t matter” and stayed home, the events following the 2000 presidential election and the turmoil the entire nation went through wouldn’t have happened. Had 900 Floridians been so stupid, or voted differently, same thing. And so on.

Math lesson for Surreal:

256 equals 256 times 1. There is no way to get to 256 without starting with 1.

Manners lesson for Surreal:

The first rule of this board is “don’t be a jerk.” Learn it. Know it. Live it.

Maybe for your donation can you at least get some stickers or buttons in return? It obviously won’t be $20 worth, but it will at least give you something back.

ummm, Otto, I wouldn’t say Surreal said anything here that could classify him as a jerk. I don’t agree with his stance, but I’d hardly say he was overly aggressive about the whole thing.

I found his “math lesson” approach to be very condescending, and I stand by what I said.