Campaign Finance has a huge influence over who has a fair chance of getting elected in our political system. For one thing, it pretty much guarantees that the ‘party-chosen’ Democrat and Republican have a much better chance of getting elected, by simple merit of the fact that the DNC and the GOP have very well-established ‘political machines,’ to funnel wheelbarrows of money to whichever candidate they consider to be their ‘favored horse.’ The problem is, they only actually choose to fund the candidates that strictly conform to what the DNC or GOP wants. This is why the DNC is trying to force out Levi Tillemann in Colorado’s District 6.
And this is why our Congress is full of the sycophants and blackguards that most of us hate. The sell-outs are the ones that usually get elected, because they’re the ones that you see the most on TV and Internet advertisements – they can afford an overwhelming amount of advertising, precisely because they’ve sold out.
And the simple fact is – there’s not much we can legally do to stop the two parties. The DNC and GOP are both private organizations – ‘clubs,’ in a sense. In a free society, we cannot prevent them from raising or spending money, because they are spending it on their own political operatives. As long as they are not breaking any laws, they are free to do with it what they will.
However, there IS a major source of political money that we CAN do something about. PACs, and Super-PACs. These are essentially no better than the political equivalent of “Offshore Shell Companies.” They’re essentially a way for mega-donors with vested-interests to funnel their money towards one major political party (or candidate) or another, without disclosing where the original source of the money comes from. In addition, they can collect extra money through interests or dividends of what they have stockpiled, and can even act as a limitless pass-through, if particular donors specifically name an intended candidate to send the funding to. This basically means that – aside from the maximum contribution limits of donors – a PAC or Super-PAC is viturally unlimited in how much money they can contribute to influence an election.
The long and short of it is this: they make it so that you don’t know where the money that finances a candidate comes from. Ie, you don’t know whose pocket the candidate is in, and whose interests they really serve. It may well come from a source that has nothing whatsoever to do with why you voted (reluctantly) for that candidate in the first place.
The solution is this: we ban PACs and Super-PACS. Outright. We make it so that if a person wants to make a political contribution to a candidate (or major party), then they have to do it directly to that candidate/party committee. And that means they have to be publicly listed as the source of the money, per the FEC laws.
In addition, I’m proposing that each and every political donor is legally capped at a yearly contribution of $1,000 (the current cap is technically $2,700, but PACs and Super-PACs allow them to get away with much much more).
When our elected politicians are voted into office, they spend taxpayer money that is not theirs – and they do so as if it were water that could be flushed down the toilet. If you want a good indicator of who is a worthwhile politician – who will spend your taxes wisely – then force them to campaign on a limited amount of money – you’ll see for yourselves who is good at budgeting, and who is not.
We also need to take a serious look at instituting contribution matching. This is currently done in 9 different States, as well as in numerous cities, with extremely encouraging results. The basic principle is that the candidate’s committee is given a sort of ‘grant’ of 1:1 or 2:1 (some are higher) contribution matching from a common public fund, with the requirement that whatever funds are left at the end of an election that were given by this ‘grant’ must be returned to the government entity that gave it to them, so that it can be used in the next election cycle. This allows small and grass-roots candidates to be able to run an effective campaign, and be able to do so by relying solely on small donor contributions.