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2008 Election Costs
A comparison of Canada's 2008 election and that of the United States - what it cost each country to elect a leader. (Hint: Record amounts set by both countries). Shouldn't it be less expensive to elect public officials?
Canada & United States - Cost of the Election
Comparing Canadian and United States politics is bit like comparing grapefruits and tangerines. They're both fruit, citrus even, but also very different. In one respect though, Canada and U.S. are the same - they'll both spent record amounts in their 2008 elections.
It's a travesty that each election should consume ever more energy (time, material and money). It'll be a relief when they're finally over.
For a comparison on election costs between Canada and the United States, carry on ...
Canada 2008: Most Spent, Same Result
Canada spent roughly $300MM for their 2008 election, which took place on Tuesday, October 14th. It pales in comparison to the money spent by their southern neighbor, but one must keep in mind that the 2008 election was their third election in four years (compared to two for the United States). The 2004 and 2006 elections cost Canadians $277MM and $270MM, respectively.
Adding insult to injury, the 2008 Canadian election saw little change in the overall party makeup in Ottawa. Stephen Harper's Conservatives will make up, yet again, another minority government.
To further illustrate the disconnect between election spending and relevancy, the 2008 Canadian election saw the lowest voter turn-out in history. Only 59% of eligible voters bothered to cast their ballots, continuing a slide of voter apathy that's continued since the 1980's (source).
U.S. 2008: Most Spent, No "Change" There
Both U.S. candidates talk about it being a "time for change". It's practically Barrack Obama's campaign slogan and with the economy collapsing, a buzz-word embraced by the John McCain camp. However, in the area of election spending, there's no change by either candidate - the 2008 election will be the most expensive in history - continuing the same old trend.
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has estimated that more than $5.3B will go toward financing the federal election which will culminate on November 4th. Ouch! They estimate that the presidential race alone will take up about half of that. (source)
Worse yet, is that it'll be the first time that presidential candidates will have raised and spent more than $1B in an effort to secure the top job. This nearly doubles the amount from the 2004 election and triples spending from the 2000 election. (source)
In looking at U.S. voter turn-out, however, the United States could take a page from Canadian politics. Even though fewer voter-eligible Canadians turned up to vote than ever before, their poor turn-out exceeded every U.S. Presidential election except three (1960, '64 and '68 - which were all in the very low 60% range). Like Canada, voter apathy has recently set in: 2004 (55%), 2000 (51%) and '96 (49%) round out the recent elections. (source)
When Will this Election Spending Madness Stop?
I'm not much of a political animal and you won't find much political discusson posted on Randsco.com. It's such a contentious and debatable topic that I don't think it's worth the effort. It doesn't help that I hold most politicians in distain, knowing that they pander to public opinion, special-interest groups and either don't know enough to make the "hard decisions" or are so afraid of voter reprisal that they won't make them. Ultimately, no matter who wins the election, it'll still be "a politician".
Politics aside, I am aghast at the amount of resources that are consumed by each successive election. It's most easily measured in terms of money, but that doesn't take into account the total energy outlay. Time: - dedicated by reporters, supporters, bloggers, media staff, writers, pundits, local party representatives, security, vendors, printers, cleaning staff and untold others; Material: - banners, pins, signs, cups, food, gasoline, planes, cars, golf carts and other items used and/or consumed; and Money: paid by special interest groups (ultimately consumers), public funds, private funds and given by people who are barely able to make ends meet in an already shaky economy.
The amount of energy that goes into electing public officials is ridiculous, unecessary, wasteful and unsustainable.
If the candidates are running on a platform of "change", the first change I'd like to see is for them to agree to change the election process itself. Sadly, I see no change ... just (a lot) more of the same.
Why not have the election consist of a series of nationally televised debates, with salient questions? Eliminate the annoying, misleading, negative ad campaigns (that don't have much of an effect anyway). Stop printing banners, buttons, signs and other media that ultimately are dumped into already brimming landfills. Stop the - "which party can raise the most money wins" - mentality. Focus on the necessary and the important - the candidate's stand on the issues. Keep the election simple - save all that energy (time, material and money) for other, more concrete and lasting goals.