Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama to avoid public financing probably hurts the Progressive cause

Today Obama opted out of public funding for the general election. There has been a general dust up between him and McCain over who said what about public financing. It appears both Obama and McCain have changed their ways on this issue.

The New York Times declares Obama’s Decision Threatens Public Financing System and I'm not so sure. But it is a compelling argument.

In the broader context of the Progressive movement, we've seen some of Obama's influence already. MoveOn's 527 is shuttered in favor of small donations.

But with Obama still taking private financing it will suck the money and wind from other causes. Since 1972, the nominee has taken public financing so private financing went either to the national committee or the state committees. This was spent to help win the White House, but also to help down-ballot candidates. The Congressional candidate could get money from the national party. Or the attorney general candidate could get financing for campaign signs from the state party.

Other 527s would also be a recipient of the private money. They would organize voter registration and Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) operations that benefited all candidates.

Obama's movement may be such a ground swell that these concerns won't matter. But for someone now working for a progressive organization trying to get our lesser-known candidates elected, we are a little nervous that our "usual" donors will be giving to Obama and not to us.