What is more important in a political campaign, money or
strategy? With the Democrat nomination contest, we now have an important test
case. Dean still leads the other candidates in money, with many times more
than Kerry, the current front runner, who was so broke a few weeks ago that he
had to refinance his house. That advantage didnâ€™t matter in Iowa, will it make
a difference from now on?
Sun Tzu's strategy tells us the opposite of what we have been hearing for
years. Position generates money. Money does not generate position. What Sun
Tzu tells us that because of the change in position, the money will stop
flowing to Dean and start going to Kerry. Expect news reports about Deanâ€™s
money problems within a few weeks. Reports on Kerryâ€™s wealth will soon follow.
So what does this tell us about
campaign finance reform, which is predicated on the power of money in
politics? According to Sun Tzu, all competition is economic at its core. Both
attackers and defenders need resources, but attackers need more resources. In
politics, money tends to flow to incumbents because of their position. The
money, however, does them less good because their positions are already known.
The challengers who are unknown and have no position in the publicâ€™s mind are
the ones who need money to buy awareness. Attack is always more expensive than
defense. Incumbents know this.
By taking money out of the race with campaign finance laws, they know that
they are basically making it harder for challengers to unseat them. They are
giving up money, which they didnâ€™t need because they had the superior
position, in order to deny it to their challengers, who have no position and
therefore need it. These are incumbency protection laws, not campaign reform