Follow the money!

The Democrats’ biggest single problem is money. Not getting outspent every year — though we do and it hurts — but the things our politicians wind up doing, and not doing, to snag the money we do get.

Why can’t we nail the Republicans for letting the accounting firms keep doing consulting work for their audit clients? Because our legislators were right there. That’s one example; make your own list.

It’s been a problem ever since Tony Coehlo sold us out to Little Oil in the mid-seventies. And there’s no point complaining about it until we develop a money source that doesn’t require selling out, which has to mean a large base of regular individual donors: say a million people giving fifty bucks a month each.

There are plenty of Democrats who could give that much money without having to redo the family budget: at election time, we just about split the over-$100,000-per-year vote with the Republicans. The problem is how to mobilize that potential base. They already have reasons to give. We need an easy means of giving, a vehicle to give to that isn’t the DNC, and a way to overcome the “free rider” problem.

I have some ideas for handling those problems, but first I want to hear from my Democratic readers about whether the above problem statement seems to them a correct one, and whether they can imagine committing $50 a month to the cause.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: