Toward better political candidates
Ross Douthat would like to see more "political journalists, think-tankers or public intellectuals" throwing themselves and their ideas into the arena. The only problem is that the people who spent all their time writing blog posts and reading policy documents didn't spend any of their time building the fundraising network that would allow them a viable candidacy. Time is fungible, and if you spend it learning stuff, you're not spending it glad-handing with rich people.
But in a world where something like the Fair Elections Act passed, a good reputation and a halfway-decent head for organizing could get you the 1,500 small-donor contributions that would be necessary for public funding to kick in. That would allow people who spent their lives doing things that are relevant to politics but not relevant to financing a political campaign the opportunity to finance a political campaign anyway. Maybe they'd even win.
The thing about the current political system is that no matter how much you like or agree with a politician, unless they're self-funded, you have to look at them and recognize that this is someone whose core competency is spending 30 percent of his or her time asking people for money, meeting and talking with people who might have money to give in the future, and generally figuring out how to pay to be a politician. That makes them a very weird person.
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