Politics, Elections, & the Presidency: a Video Conversation with Thomas Jefferson
Each time you were an election candidate, you declined to campaign for office, and said you would prefer to remain a private citizen. In 1796, for example, you said you had “no passion which would lead me to ride the storm.” How would you react to a system in which dozens of men began to swarm across the country two years in advance of an election, spending millions of dollars each month of other people’s money, to secure the presidency?

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I have never had an ambition to govern men. I look upon it as a duty, surely, a calling of a concerned constituency that desire me – or any candidate – to represent their concerns. And yet I cannot deny that political electioneering has often involved the influence of money, the influence of favors.

If we are to see a time in the future where much money will be expended on political electioneering as well as many, many candidates endeavoring to provoke the concerns of the citizen body, I would rather that the money not be spent to buy a vote but rather that the money be spent to provoke a vote. We should not deny that political electioneering in its essence is an attempt to provoke the citizen body to take action.