Leveling The Playing Field
This is not an argument that would get you very far with a conservative partisan or independent skeptic.
But as far as I’m concerned, the financial advantage Sen. Barack Obama will likely have over Sen. John McCain because of Obama’s decision to opt-out of the public financing system is utterly justifiable.
Separate from the specific elements of Obama’s so-called pledge (Rick Hasen offers a good rundown here), the reality is that:
1) Obama’s small-donor strategy means he still isn’t reliant on special interest dollars, and therefore, his government won’t be unduly influenced. But,
2) If he has vastly more money than his opponent, which is expected (not counting money from other Republican and conservative operations) he has a greater ability to get his message out to the public.
However, #2 doesn’t bother my sense of fair play.
Because it is also the reality that Obama will have to fight back a far greater amount of lies, smears, and distortions. Every Democratic candidate for president in recent history has suffered from this dynamic, and with Obama, even more so.
You can’t put a dollar amount on the impact of the smear machine.
Therefore, having to means to shout over the smears is essential, if we are to have a debate that is remotely focused on the important issues we face as a country.