Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are Massachusetts politicians on the naughty list?

As the Boston Globe reports today, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates are not high on anyone's gift-giving list this holiday season. Donations are drying up, and even candidates who went gang-busters on fundraising the last time around are not pulling it off again this year.

Is it possible that, in general, politicians have found themselves on the naughty list?

Unless you're a lobbyist or corporate bigwig, donating to political candidates is something most people do sparingly, if at all. It takes a lot to convince the average person to peel off cash for a political candidate. Just ask the candidates, who have to spend hours and hours "dialing for dollars." With today's news that the Massachusetts unemployment rate is now higher than the national average for the first time since 2007, there's a good chance the person who takes their call doesn't have a paycheck, let alone cash to make a donation.

People work hard for their money, and after they've spent it on necessities like mortgages or rent, health insurance, groceries and child care, there isn't much left. Convincing them to give the leftovers--if there are any--to a candidate is no easy sell. 

You've got to be able to convince potential donors that they are going to get some kind of return on their investment. Candidates need to give voters something to buy into, some reason why their hard-earned money will eventually improve the quality of their day-to-day lives. Politicians call it a "donation," but in reality, donors give because they see it as an investment in the future for themselves and their families. 

In a year when Congress' approval rating has sunk to historic lows, Obamacare has been a complete trainwreck and the federal government actually shut down, is it possible that people can't bring themselves to donate another dollar to facilitating bad behavior? 

Is it possible voters are tired of nasty campaigns that spiral into negativity and away from positive visions for the future, and the incessant TV ads and robocalls that come with all that? Perhaps they feel candidates should be able to campaign for an office on the six figures they already have in their war chests. 

We don't think voters are pessimistic. Not by a long shot. We think Massachusetts residents are actually optimistic. They know it can be better, and they are looking for a candidate who matches their hope for the future and who they can trust to lead the state in that direction.

The next Massachusetts governor will be the candidate who can lay out a grander vision for Massachusetts with concrete plans for how to make it happen. Donations are a manifestation of people's inspiration around a candidate.

So far, voters aren't seeing it. 

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