Vol. 3    No. 13
June 26, 2008
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
Obama and Butler
 I am conflicted by U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s decision to forego public financing of his general
election campaign in favor of private campaign contributions. Under public campaign financing, Obama,
the Democratic nominee-in-waiting, would have received $85 million for the fall presidential contest, the
same amount that U.S. Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting, will receive. Instead, he
has opted to depend upon the pool of over 1.5 million donors he has amassed over the past year. Estimates
are that he could raise up to $300 million for the general election.
 Now I believe in the public financing of presidential elections. I religiously check the box on my Form
1040 each year indicating I want some of my income tax funds to go into the presidential campaign fund
pool. I feel that it is important to keep big money out of presidential contests — or state Supreme Court
contests for that matter. While campaign finance reform won’t be a cure-all for our electoral system, it could
curb our excesses and economically make me feel that we have ‘one person, one vote’ once again.
 Obama bolting away from public financing — something he committed to earlier — sends the signal that ‘I
believe in public financing unless I feel assured I can raise more money than the other candidate.’ It’s
something McCain can use in the general election against Obama. It brings into question Obama’s reform
 But there is something that Obama said in a press release after he rejected public financing that is
instructive. “It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing
of elections," the statement said. "But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is
broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system."
 We only really have to look back to the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Justice Louis
Butler, an African American, and Judge Michael Gabelman to understand Obama’s statement. For Butler,
an African American candidate, it was important for him to be able to have some control over his own
image. He crisscrossed the state speaking before a diverse range of organizations and raised as much
money as he legally and appropriately could to put out his message and control the image that was
presented to the public. I think Butler would have been perfectly satisfied to accept public financing of the
Wisconsin Supreme Court election.
 While the candidates were fairly matched in terms of dollars that they raised, Wisconsin Manufac-turers
and Commerce and other special interest groups spent millions on the Supreme Court Race. While it must
be said that money was spent both for and against Butler, the preponderance of the messages were against
And it was the sinister nature of the ads against Butler with their subtle racial overtones that I feel were most
damaging against Butler. Those ads put out by Gabelman and WMC appealed to the base racial attitudes
in some of Wisconsin’s electorate to tip the scales against Butler. Butler was the first incumbent justice to
lose in 40 years and he lost by a margin of 51-49 percent. In the closest of elections, Butler lost control of
his image in a racially charged manner by people outside of his opponent’s campaign organization.
In the annals of our nation’s history, I would put money on the statement that it is the image of the African
American man who has been the most maligned. From Mandingo warrior to Willie Horton, the image of
African American men has been, to a large extent, outside of their control and negatively manipulated to
serve the purposes of those in power, economically and politically — Euro-American males.
So it is no surprise that Barack Obama has rejected public campaign financing for the fall election. And
who can really blame him? He is a Black man in America. And while he and John McCain would have the
same $85 million to spend under public financing, if the 2004 election is instructive, there would be the
527 committees with Republican leanings just waiting to “swift boat” Obama with racially-tinged advertising
that may appeal to 5-10 percent of the Euro-American population in a tightly-contested election. And if he
accepted public financing, he would be effectively powerless to combat the distortion of his image as a
Black man in America.
 It is wise for Obama to forego the public funds. Let’s see how things shake out after November.

Stories & Columns

The Literary Divide: "We'll fight until
the last American is dead ..."
by Dr. Paul Barrows

Madison Pentecostal Assembly
celebrates 25th anniversary (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

Big Brothers Big Sisters Incredible
House Raffle: A man blessed indeed,
by Jonathan Gramling

2008 Wis. Indian Education Assn
Conference: Native pedagogy (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

Asian Wisconzine:
The story of Dr. Gurwattan Singh
Miranpuri/When science & religion
are in harmony,
by Heidi M. Pascual

Simple Things/The projects: When
temporary becomes permanent,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

Voices/Warriors against
by Dr. Jean Daniels

Community Celebrations
by Jonathan Gramling

ULGM's Sterling Lynk: Working for
by Laura Salinger

Incarceration Rates Up: Saving
young Black men,
by Jonathan Gramling

Madison's 2008 Juneteenth Day
Celebration: Past and future pride,
by Jonathan Gramling

China Dispatch/Changes in Hefei:
Foreigners rule!
by Andrew Gramling

Top 10 Questions about digital TV,
From Wisc-TV3

China in Africa: Implications for U.S.
policy"/African engagement,
by U.S. Sen. Feingold  

Madison vigil to support detained
Iowa workers,
by Jonathan Gramling  

Lucha Libre releases The
Takeover/Lucha Libre unleashed,
by Jonathan gramling

Editorial Staff
Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows
Jean Daniels
Andrew Gramling
Lang Kenneth Haynes
Heidi M. Pascual
Laura Salinger
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

©2008 The Capital City Hues
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