One Person, One
Vote, One Dollar
by Mad Dog
This raises a question that’s on most peoples’ minds: If
I have to sit through a primary campaign that’s been going on since
the day after the last presidential inauguration and then muster up the
strength to go to the polls, just how much is my vote worth anyway?
||Finally, after what feels
like a two millennium-long primary campaign, the people of Iowa who
aren’t too lazy, jaded, or busy waiting for ABC to rerun the final
episode of Dancing With the Stars in the hope that this time
Marie Osmond will win, will be heading to the caucuses to kick off the
true start of the primary season. A caucus, for those of you who have
been hoping that if you ignore the candidates they’ll all go away, is
an election process wherein voters gather in groups and raise their
hands to vote for a candidate rather than heading to the polls and
casting their ballot in secret like in a civilized country. It’s old
style social networking, kind of like getting together with your
Facebook friends only you actually have to leave your house to do it.
And see and talk to people. Face to face. Sounds gross, doesn’t it?
This raises a question that’s on
most peoples’ minds: If I have to sit through a primary campaign
that’s been going on since the day after the last presidential
inauguration and then muster up the strength to go to the polls, just
how much is my vote worth anyway? And a good question it is. After all,
we’re Americans, we like to put a value on everything. To say a vote
is an investment in your future only leads to a discussion about how
long you need to remain a citizen before your vote becomes fully vested,
and whether you can roll over your vote should you leave your current
country for a better opportunity. To say your vote is worth one
one-hundred-twenty-millionth of the presidency — since that’s how
many people voted in the last election — doesn’t mean much either,
especially when you consider that the president gets paid $400,000 a
year, meaning over a four-year term in office one vote is worth all of
about a penny.
Asked if they’d give up their right to vote forever in
exchange for $1 million, half said yes. Interestingly, 90 percent of
those who said they'd give up their vote for life also said they think
voting is "very important" or "somewhat important."
Apparently not as important as money, though.
So how do we determine what a vote is actually worth? Luckily we
have bright college students to help us out with this. After all, they
have the intellectual curiosity, the wherewithal, and most of all, the
time to seek out the answers to burning questions like these. Especially
if they go to NYU.
According to the school’s student
newspaper, the Washington Square News (motto: “All the news our
advisors think will fit”), a journalism class at the university polled
students to find out how much they thought their vote was worth.
Sixty-six percent said they’d give up their vote in exchange for a
free year in school. Since it costs about $49,190 per year to go to NYU,
that’s a pretty good value for your vote. Twenty percent of the
students are easy, saying they’d give up their vote for an iPod Touch,
which only costs about $400. Asked if they’d give up their right to
vote forever in exchange for $1 million, half said yes. Talk about an
indecent proposal. Interestingly, 90 percent of those who said they'd
give up their vote for life also said they think voting is "very
important" or "somewhat important." Apparently not as
important as money, though.
Now that we know what a vote is worth
to a voter, what about the other side of the equation, What’s a vote
worth to a candidate? In the last presidential race, George Bush and
John Kerry spent about $1.2 billion campaigning. Since 122,294,978
people voted, that means the candidates spent $9.81 per vote.
Considering that this time around they’ve already raised more money
than the GNP of at least 56 countries, and the Center for Responsive
Politics estimates they’ll wind up spending 30 percent more than they
did four years ago, I’d say our vote is worth quite a bit more than
ten bucks now.
Mitt Romney had offered me half of the $442.87 it cost him to win each
vote in the Iowa Straw Poll I’d gladly have moved to Iowa. And figured
out a way to vote twice.
As it is, they spend this money on silly stuff like buttons,
bumper stickers, balloons, fake
straw hats, TV commercials, and ridiculously
priced haircuts hoping it will convince us to vote for them. This
proves one thing — the candidates aren’t smart enough to be
president. It’s not that they’re wasting our hard earned donations
and matching federal funds on things they could have shoplifted,
borrowed, or appropriated from the Senate supply closet, but rather that
they could make much better use of their funds if they’d just cut out
the middleman and pay voters directly. Face it, if Mitt Romney had
offered me half of the $442.87 it cost him to win each vote in the Iowa
Straw Poll I’d gladly have moved to Iowa. And figured out a way to
Think about it. It would be cheaper for them since most of us
would give them a discount. It would be a good deal for us since now all
we do is give money and don’t get any of it back, a worse investment
than handing out subprime mortgages. Finally, it would reduce the
candidates’ carbon footprint because they wouldn’t need to
manufacture so much “stuff” and fill the air with globally-warming
hot campaign air, they could just sit back and sign the checks. Sure the
tchotchke industry would suffer, but on the other hand the TV networks
would get a boost in ratings because people would stop changing the
channel every time another campaign ad appeared. As in every sixty
It’s as if like the candidates
don’t have the money to do this. After all, they’ve already raised
about $420 million and this is only the primary. Texas Representative
Ron Paul, who’s half far right-wing conservative and half libertarian
— meaning he meets himself on the radical side of everything — set a
record by raising $4.5 million in one day, mostly online. That’s
enough to buy 35 million bumper stickers, 13,500 TV commercials, or pay
each person in Iowa who’s going to raise their hand at a caucus $45. I
know which sounds like the best bet to me.
©2007 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while waiting for your vote check to arrive.