Ad-venture capital in American presidential politics

Like it or not, in agreement or in disfavor by the populace, our money politics has now entered the era of networking, multi-level-marketing and thorough ad-brainwashing.

Forget about democratic ideals, exalted social justice, or even the loftier proposition of brotherhood and world peace. Forget about political party platforms that might spouse aspirations spirited with humanistic principles. Remember, this is America, where the only beliefs held sacrosanct, beliefs which are expected to hold popular allegiance, are embodied in the duality of market economics and market politics.

Well, in truth, probably fewer than 10 percent of our citizens have a clue as to what a free market economy is, or should be; or that our existing economy is hardly guided by a free price system, much of it being expropriatory and corrupt. However, that 90-plus percent of ignoranti in the art of economics are well aware of this nation’s unashamed commitment to market politics, accepting by default being governed by those with the purse strings. Most everyone seems to be in conformity with the idea that “ours is the best government money can buy,” mocking ourselves to be proud and happy fools.

Money has influenced and often dictated, at least in our lifetime, how political elections are being conducted so as to optimize a candidate’s chances for election. Our two-way stepladder politics has been for the most part a game played by the Knights of Capital, some siding with the Democrats, some siding with the Republicans, some straddling… placing their bets on both.

Now, since the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law went into effect (2002), there is little option but for the candidates to invite small donors, up to $2,300 each this year, to come and fill their coffers. The fund-raising, to be effective, needs to tap a new breed of “venture capitalists,” a group that might be considered the Squires of Capital, those who not only donate the allowed max, but who pledge to collect from other donors from 10 to 100 times that amount. Networking is called… MLM of 2 or 3 levels, if you ask me! Enter the most successful – in obtaining financing – presidential candidate of them all, Barack Obama, who in a true effortless mode can just rake in $50 million in a single month, 80 percent via the Internet, with zero personal effort and barely cracking a smile.

And the why of that success should not be a secret to someone in my shoes.

A business plan for a political candidate should be no different from a business plan for either a start-up business, or a mature one in need of venture capital… whether for expansion or for survival. The functional areas in politics that need to be addressed may be different from those of a profit-making enterprise… but the purpose is identical: to obtain necessary funding to achieve a set of goals. And, in my counseling capacity to businesses for decades, I have been an integral part of that business plan process.

And guess what, for all the logically and beautifully presented data assigning a high probability of success in the plan, and minimization of risk, it has been my experience that, in eight out of ten cases, whether dealing with banks or in private placements, the ultimate success was achieved because of the personal talent and the inspirational, or entrepreneurial, skills of the person in charge. At the end of the day, it is a person that defines for a venture capitalist whether a company or a project is viable. And so it is in politics. Barack Obama was/is that inspirational leader this year… turning him into a quarter-of-a-billion, maybe a half-billion dollar man before the Democratic National Convention in August.

So more than the political funding concept, success has been Obama himself… and his message, of course. Needless to say, Obama needs to pay attention to the pre-printed pages that are de rigueur in any and all business plans presented by US presidential candidates: solidarity with the aspirations of the brass at the Pentagon (empire); at least a friendly attitude towards big business; total adhesion to Israel’s government; and an anti-Castro (Fidel, Raúl or any government of ideological continuity) position on Cuba.

A good politician that Obama is, he is ahead of schedule, having made the rounds at the synagogues as well as addressing the now dwindling Cuban Mafiosi in Southern Florida. Of course, the hawkish duet in the trio, Clinton and McCain, had already done so. But then again, foreign policy issues are pre-written in each candidate’s business plan.

Does anyone really believe that this country will change via political evolution? I, for one, have my doubts. Our elections are but an adventure in advancing the possibility of minimal change, but never give us an opportunity to really choose change.