Seeking Qualified Candidates Who Aren't Rich or Famous

By Conor Friedersdorf

It's understandable when the political press reports on the horserace realities of presidential contests. For example, Hillary Clinton is well-positioned, by virtue of her name recognition and ability to raise money from Wall Street, unions, and the military-industrial complex, to capture the 2016 Democratic nomination. Given the signals she has sent, covering her as a presumptive candidate is reasonable. But American journalism does a poor job of informing the public about alternative candidates for the presidency, governorships, and the Senate, people whose resume suggests that they are qualified for leadership positions but who lack wealthy backers or name recognition.

In this way, press coverage of viable candidates becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and potentially superior alternatives are ignored for lack of fame and fortune. Only billionaires like Ross Perot or movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger can mount credible campaigns without attention from the press. Shouldn't political reporters alert voters to qualified candidates who aren't rich or famous, even if—gasp—they don't fit neatly into the two-party duopoly on political power?

The 2016 election cycle is sufficiently distant to remedy this traditional failure. There is time for the press to solicit the names and resumes of people who intend to run for office; to assess their qualifications; and to introduce them to a public that isn't typically thrilled with the usual options before it. There will be plenty of time later to winnow the field. Perhaps the public will like what it sees and donate time or money to at least some of these unknowns.

So how about it? If you intend to run for president or Senate in 2016, suffer from poor name recognition, but possess qualifications that would recommend you as an elected official, I'd like to hear from you. Perhaps I'd like write about you as well—or at least to pass your name and contact information to journalists in your region. 

Is there hunger for coverage like this? Stay tuned.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/seeking-qualified-candidates-who-arent-rich-or-famous/374058/