GOOD

Lessons from Santorum: You Don't Have to Win to Set the Agenda

Santorum has achieved the best-case scenario of a longshot candidate: making a mark on the national conversation.


When I was 17 years old, my father ran for governor of New York on the Green Party ticket. From May to November 2002, he drove around the state in the family's Volvo two or three times a week, racking up about 10,000 miles. The campaign bill was around $60,000, some of which our family footed. Winning was never the point: My dad earned 41,000 votes total.

I was horrified about spending the money, and perplexed about my mother's tolerance of a semi-absentee partner. It seemed like such a waste. "Why are you doing this, Dad?" I asked him. His answer was simple: "I want to influence the conversation." I was skeptical, until the day after my high school graduation when he handed me a lengthy New York Times profile of him and his bid for governor, one that quoted him on the need for environmental protections, campaign finance reform, and state-subsidized health insurance—positions that were absent from the more mainstream candidates' platforms. "This is why I'm running," he told me. "When you run for office, you get publicity for your ideas." Despite the fact that my middle-class parents had to put a chunk of the campaign expenses on credit cards and were still paying them off in 2006, my father doesn't regret running. Those few thousand people who listened to him, and ended up voting for him, made it worth it.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

The Upside—and Downsides—of QR Codes

Why advertise your site when you can send someone directly there?

You probably recognize the weird box of pixels at the top of this article. It’s called a QR Code—quick response—and it’s a way to box up some information, often a link to online content, and put it on the printed page. You scan it with your mobile phone, and suddenly you’ve got a wealth of information.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

The Upside of the Supercommittee's Failure: A Real Debate on Tax Cuts

We're much more likely to get a good deal from next year's election than from some "grand bargain" from the super committee.

So the supercommittee wasn't so super after all. Is anyone truly surprised that a group of senators and representatives—half Republicans, half Democrats—failed to solve the same issues on which their full bodies had come up empty after months of debate? No plan that included raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans had a chance of earning Republican support, and one with enough domestic spending cuts to render those increases unnecessary wasn't going to attract any Democrats. Bipartisan cooperation is so much easier in theory than in real-world Capitol Hill conference rooms.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

The Upside of the Debt Debacle: Taking the "Long View" Seriously

The debt crisis was nothing but political theater, but wouldn't it be great if more issues got the "think of your grandchildren" treatment?


Throughout the excruciating debt negotiations, there has been a particularly loud cry from conservatives to "think of our grandchildren." Countless politicians, most of whom will be dead by the time the debt limit creates a real fiscal crisis, are set on dealing with a problem that might materialize in 2070. But as GOOD pointed out a few days ago, the debt deal didn't actually address our long-term problems at all.

Even though this forward-looking view has been little more than political theater, there's an opportunity to apply it to thorny problems that could seriously use a long-term plan of attack from lawmakers. In a recent and all-too-rare moment of government foresight, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to make birth control free under the new health care law. It's a move that won't just save money in the long term, but also could help the world's overpopulation problem. Here are a few more issues that could benefit if politicians took the long view:

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

The Potential Upside of the Netflix Price Hike

In the long term, streaming rather than shipping videos could help us all be that much more green.

In my household, subscribing to Netflix means letting a Sopranos DVD hang out on the dresser until we watch four episodes all in one week, while also reserving the right to watch Hot Tub Time Machine instantly. We haven’t quite come to terms with the idea that we’re going to have to pony up $6 more dollars a month for the privilege of both receiving thin red envelopes in the mail and streaming movies online.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles