Campaign Finance Reform… Really!

My prior proposal to restrict the length of the presidential election cycle is likely to be opposed.  I suspect that my critics would argue that I am intending to limit the candidate’s, parties, PAC’s and SuperPAC’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. I would suggest that there is way too much money behind that call for freedom of speech.  I am not proposing to restrict the speech, just to limit the time in which we have to put up with listening to the sound bites, mindless rhetoric, and attack adds.  In my opinion, our political process has become corrupted by the money raised and given during election cycles.  Of course, I have a simple proposal for campaign finance reform.

Rule 1: Candidates may accept donations only from constituents.

Our democracy is structured on elected representatives.  Our politicians, their supporters and detractors appear to have forgotten this concept.  The president is the only elected official who represents all citizens in the USA.  Each state has two senators for that state, and several representatives, each with a district based on population.  Similarly at the state level, governors represent all citizens within the state, then senators and representatives.  Local counties, public service districts (utilities) and even school boards have similar organization of an executive and counsels of some sorts.

At each level, the elected official has a duty to represent a specific geographical group of people.  However, I observe that we have forgotten about the official – constituent relationship.   Senator Barbara Box forgets that her constituents are in California, when she acts in belief that she is standing for the interests of women across the country.  Representative Shelly Moore Capito forgets that much of her district in West Virginia does not mine coal (north eastern part of WV), when she claims to be standing up for the coal industry and workers.  She is not responsible for advocating for other districts in southern West Virginia, let alone South Dakota coal fields.

My proposal would require that financial donations come from voters who are constituents of that candidate.  Corporations, unions, charitable organizations, PAC’s, SuperPAC’s are not people, cannot vote, and would not be allowed to donate to any campaign or engage in activities to influence the campaign.  People who do not regerister to vote have already opted out of the political process, and should not be allowed to try to influence elections.   If a CEO or an employee, a Union boss or member, someone with an opinion on the environment or 2nd Amendment rights, or any other cause wants to make a donation, they may, but they must be able to vote for the candidate to whom they support.

Of course, candidates are generally affiliated with political parties, which need funding separate from the candidates specific campaigns.  I would apply a parallel rule that only registered votes of those parties could contribute to those parties.  If someone prefers to be  an independent voter or members of the Mountain Party, etc. they would not be allows to fund either the Democratic or Republic parites.

Rule 2: No caps on donations.

I am not concerned with how much someone wants to put into a campaign, as long as they can vote for the candidate.  With all the institutional money eliminated, and money from outside of the states or districts of non-presidential candidates, a lot less money would be passed around.  If only individual voters can make donations, even if they have deep pockets, they will have a limited number of races they might influence, namely the potential official who would represent them at different federal, state, and local elections.

Rule 3: Transparency.

If someone wants to pour thousands or millions of dollars toward a candidate’s campaign, I want to know who put up the money.  I would require that all donations be public record.  Our journalists would then have the ability to fulfill their public function to inform us whether a candidate has a few large funding donors with specific political agendas, verse a broad base of small donations.  If someone does not want to potential for public scrutiny, I do not want them trying to influence the political process through negative or misleading advertising blitzes.  Without institutional donations, those individuals could not hide behind the corporate name, union hall, environmental or social advocacy group, etc.

Three simple rules.  Way to brief to ever pass the legislature.

Why do you think that the Constitution begins with “We the people…”?


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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2 Responses to Campaign Finance Reform… Really!

  1. Barneysday says:

    I like your thought process and it would appear that something needs to be done about the obscene amounts of money and ads placed in front of the voters eyes. But I disagree with your rule number 1. You may not have seen this, but now, many members of congress do not accept e-mails from anyone other than those in their districts they represent. Yet they are members of committees that have national implications. If they are only representing their limited views of their districts, they then are more subject to local, small minded influences, and not mindful of national implications.

    Personally, I think the Super PAC’s as we’ve seen them this year are dead. The money was too loosely thrown around, and not adequately focused. That won’t happen again. There will still be money, but it will be more controlled by the donors, and thus more focused from their perspective, more scattered from the national perspective.

    And another thought on the length of the political season, I’m not as disturbed by that, becuase it allows a lot of early “super stars” to flame out and go away before they do serious damage. I think of Rick Perry of Texas for example. His press was how brilliant he was, and how great Texas was doing. Remember he suggested Texas secede from the Union? With enough time, and enough speeches, it became clear what a stupid fool he really was. The same with Newt and Cain. With only limited campaigning time, these idiots might have made it.

    Just a few thoughts

    • hermitsdoor says:

      My intent is to limit political influence through contributions. Once elected, politicians need to listen to their constitutient first, but should also seek other sources of information, knowledge, and wisdom related to their specific committees and task forces. I just do not want someone who provided prior financial assistance to gain better access.

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