Arthur Lieber of Creve Coeur, a Democrat running for the suburban St. Louis congressional seat currently held by Republican Todd Akin, sent out a press release today begging supporters to "Don't-nate" -- a.k.a. not give him money.
Undoubtedly, they were all too happy to oblige.
Lieber writes on his website that he decided to run for office on a whim: "...when no Democrat had filed to run in Missouri's Second Congressional District as of three hours prior to the deadline, I filed to ensure that Democrats in the district would have someone for whom to vote. I look forward to the opportunity to put my ideas into public play."
Ideas -- that's so sweet ... but hasn't this guy heard that money = free speech? (Hey, don't blame us -- that's straight from the Supreme Court.) How's he going to put his ideas into play without a kazillion billionaires bankrolling his campaign?
For the record, Lieber's answer appears to be the Internet, which he hopes will drive discussion.
The internet has been used quite effectively in recent years to help candidates raise money. There is a certain irony in this development, because the web makes campaigning so much less expensive. For $4.95 a month, I can host this site and provide you with considerably more information than you would receive from a slew of one-minute commercials or a mile-high stack of bumper stickers, buttons, and yard signs.
To that end, here's Lieber's passionate plea to don't-nate, straight from the email.
1. I think that there's way too much money in politics.
2. An excessive amount of the money goes to negative advertising, which might be effective, but only because it appeals to our baser instincts. I'll pass on that.
3. You could find better things to do with your money. Do you have kids, a friend who needs a little help, a charity you'd like to support?
4. There are many individuals who feel pressured to donate to a campaign when they cannot afford it. This is occurring while:
a. Credit card debt in the U.S. is $962 billion or about $2,700 for every man, woman or child in the U.S. I'd rather you pay off a credit card than donate to my campaign.
b. Roughly one-quarter of homeowners have mortgages that are "underwater," owing more than their homes are worth. Any donation you might make to my campaign might further exacerbate that situation.
c. The unemployment rate in the United States is 9.5%. I can think of better jobs creation programs than giving to my campaign.
5. So while you may want to donate to my campaign, I won't accept it for the reasons stated above. I suggest helping someone in categories 'a,' 'b,' or 'c' above or donating to a charity.
While we'd like to chalk this up to some Bre'er Rabbit-style "Don't throw me into the briar patch" strategizing, we have to admit he sounds pretty serious. After all, he's saying he won't even accept the money if given.
So go ahead. Admire Arthur Lieber's principles. Tell people you find his lack of greed refreshing. Just don't send him any money.
And don't, sadly, expect him to win.