*This article has been chosen to go in the local paper again. My third one. Woohoo!!*
Another season of campaigning has come to an end. After months of being bombarded with radio announcements, roadside signs bigger than life, and a war of words that left my head spinning, I finally scoot on down to the polling station to cast my very first vote. At the age of 41 I am starting a little bit late in life having my voice heard and hoping my vote counts but it seems I got back just in time to witness a truly historical campaign first. Nearly $4 billion dollars spent by various electoral hopefuls and while I'm no expert on politics and what makes the process tick, I can't wrap my head around that number without asking myself a few questions.
Last I heard we were in a recession and the average American citizen was either struggling to pay the bills, struggling to find adequate health care, or struggling to stay employed. We are told over and over in many different ways that we need to cut back on our spending in order to get through this rough patch. This is sound advice anyone would accept willingly who knows anything about budgeting and planning ahead. Personally I do not have any form of health care because I can't afford it. My biggest fear is getting too sick that staying home and roughing it out with over the counter medication just won't work this time. My apartment complex just raised the rent again by $45 dollars. Compared to $4 billion that's not even a drop in the ocean but it certainly has me scrambling to see where I can cut back even further on my spending to find that $45. I also had to tell my children that I couldn't afford to buy school pictures this time around because paying the electric bill was the difference between lights on...and lights off. While I sit here trying to juggle my bills and the needs of my children and the cost of going to college and keeping gas in my car to get me to work and college and back, my mind keeps returning to that colossal number; $4 billion dollars.
If there is $4 billion dollars floating around out there that can be spent on campaign ads, bill board signs, full newspaper spreads, hand shaking back slapping parties, finger pointing and reputation shredding commercials, and to build those little wooden platforms that would be candidates stand on while making all those soon to be forgotten campaign promises...why isn't there $4 billion dollars to spend on improving the quality of education our children receive in school? Why isn't there $4 billion dollars to spend on providing health care for those that need it most but can't afford it? Why isn't there $4 billion dollars to build more shelters for abused women and children in this country. Currently there are more animal shelters in the United States than shelters for battered women. Most importantly, if there is $4 billion dollars floating around out there being freed up to donate anonymously to campaigns that will soon be forgotten why can't those same anonymous donors donate that same amount of money to those items I just listed where the effect will be longer lasting and more appreciated?
As I walked into the polling station with that number rolling around in my head along with the names and promises of each candidate up for election or re-election, I couldn't help but think one thing. Why is it that Americans can always find money for the things that don't matter and can't be used to improve our lives in anyway, but always manage to find that extra buck, or 4 billion of them, tucked away somewhere for those emergency situations; like a much needed mocha latte frappacino...or an election candidates future vote?