Vincent Cheung

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Friday, February 08, 2008

How non-Americans can influence the elections

As a bit of a political news junkie, it frustrated me a little bit that no matter how inspired and moved I am by a candidate, my vote doesn't count.

I have, however, found a way that the world can influence American politics: (illegal) donations.

I'm not saying that I, as a non-American, went to Obama's donation page and made an individual contribution, which required me to lie about being "a United States citizen or a lawfully-admitted permanent resident". I'm just saying that people can do that...

Money counts. Obama and Clinton raised over $100 million each in 2007 and there were reports of Obama getting over $30 million in January and $7 million since Super Tuesday (2 days ago). With Obama's coffers, he was able to run TV ads in most of the Super Tuesday states, while Clinton was only able to do so in about half of them. Obama was even able to run ads during Superbowl, which usually costs a stupid amount. The money is used for all aspects of the campaign from hiring people, getting the word out, traveling costs, nomination fees, etc.

Obama has a big grassroots (netroots?) campaign and apparently a lot of his hundreds of thousands of donations are small contributions made online and by individuals, compared to other candidates that get most of their money from big donations from large corporations.

If I was "a United States citizen or a lawfully-admitted permanent resident", I would totally make a legal donation to Obama's campaign, but as it stands, I can't :). If you want to watch a good video of Obama, this is the one that really impressed and inspired me. It's a video of him giving a talk and Q&A at Google:


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