The new maximum you’re allowed to give a federal candidate for his or her primary or general election to the House, the Senate, or the White House is $2,300 (up from $2,100) – or $4,600 (up from $4,200) if you max out to both their primary and presidential campaigns (even if they face no primary opponent), or $9,200 (up from $8,400) if both you and your better half do the same. Or $216,400 if you both do all the federal candidate and committee giving the law allows.

Aren’t you fortunate?

So the first thing to say is that we need public financing of federal elections (a good link to click if you’re interested in how this would work and why it would be better) . . .

. . . and the second thing to say is that, yes, I know, these limits are about as relevant to your life as, chances are, my telling you about ways to save money on yacht fuel.

(Easy: don’t buy a yacht.)

But whether you have already maxed out to three different presidential hopefuls – as at least one of my friends already has (a total of $6,900) – or have a budget of $200, total, for all political giving this year, I believe there are some points to be made.

Many of us agree on THE GOAL: Increase the Democratic majority in Congress and take back the White House, so we can move full-speed ahead toward solving our country’s (and our planet’s) problems . . . made so much worse these past six years.

(It would also be very nice to go back to appointing moderate, progressive judges.)

And many of us face the same CHALLENGE: Everybody and his brother is going to be calling to ask for money for a dozen different presidential primary campaigns, and – not wanting to lose a friendship (or offend a brother) – we are going to want to say yes to them all.

So . . . for what it’s worth, here’s a possible STRATEGY: Give all you can to ONE candidate, if you feel passionately about him or her. That’s a great thing to do. Otherwise, though, give to NONE of them.

Because whether we collectively spend 50 million Democratic dollars on the primary contest or 500 million Democratic dollars, we will still wind up with just one – great – nominee.

Spending more does not change that in any way.

But the number of Democratic dollars we have to build the Party and the war chest for the general election may determine who wins the White House (and how well we widen our margins in Congress).

Spending more could make all the difference in the world.

Thus two sacrifices are called for here. First, giving a ton of money. Second – insofar as possible – giving it logically.

It’s tough to tell a friend, ‘I’d love to help, but I’m saving that money for one of the 21 red ’08 Senate seats coming up for grabs that we’ll want to turn blue.’

Or to tell your brother, ‘I need to save that money for tough red Congressional districts we turned blue in 2006 that we need to keep blue.’

Or (my favorite), ‘I’m really, really sorry, but – since I know we’ll have a presidential nominee whether I give or not – I’m putting my limited dollars where the outcome is not certain. I’m giving my 2007 political money to the DNC to fund its army of local organizers and build its war chest, to be sure our nominee WINS.’

In a world of limited resources, the team that uses its resources most logically has a big advantage.


Have you ever seen a 20-foot chocolate sculpture? If not, you may enjoy this five-minute clip of its construction.

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