Recently, the Senate voted on a proposed constitutional amendment S.J.Res.19 that would have dealt with the controversial issue of campaign finance regulations and rules. Sen. Mark Udall (D) of New Mexico submitted the proposal on June 18th entitled “S.J. Res.19.” The proposal was an attempt to curtail the effects of both soft and hard money in politics through a proposed constitutional amendment. The idea behind the amendment was to create a system that would allow congress and the states to determine the spending ability of outside sources in political races.
If was casting my vote as a Senator from Nevada I would have voted NO on this proposal. It’s not that I think the wealthy should have more sway in politics, or that the system we have is fine, but that more regulations will likely have the same affect on potential political influence as anti-piracy efforts have on preventing intellectual property theft. Those who can find loopholes, and can afford to exploit them, will. Examples of this occurring are scattered throughout the history of modern man. This constitutional amendment will only serve to redirect the problem, not solve it.
What is the problem we are trying to solve with this proposal? To me, it seems that corruption is at the root of it and the easiest way to solve corruption is not to create more rules, which tend to obfuscate, but to make things simpler and more transparent. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So here is what I would propose.
- Get rid of limits altogether. These pose unnecessary ceilings to those who wish to spend more money helping to get their candidate of choice elected. If someone told me I could only spend $100 dollars a month at my favorite store because it’s not fair to other stores, I would laugh at the absurdity. No, limits are unnecessary, why? Because of my next proposal.
- Instant transparency. In this high-tech world where we see breaking news events almost the second it happens, why do we have to wait until after the election to see how much groups or individuals have donated? More importantly, why is there so much secrecy involved in donations? Surely there is nothing to hide, no insidious intentions behind these donations, right? So, donate as much as you want but everyone will know who you are, to whom you’ve donated, and how much. Having this type of accountability will serve as the best prevention to any potential corruption or quid pro quo that more rules and regulations may provide.
- Reduce the length of campaigns. Why, oh why, must campaign season be 12 to 18 months long? People get married in less time and that is supposed to be a forever relationship, the most we’re talking here is 6 years. If you can’t give m your positions and have a couple debates within the course of a few months, you don’t deserve the position. The UK has one-month worth of campaigning. Aaaahh, sounds delightful doesn’t it? No more road signs up for months on end. No more barrages of mud-slinging commercials with the sole purpose of distracting the electorate. If you really want to reduce the potential corruption involved with campaign finance donations, you’d find a bit of relief here.
- Move to publicly financed campaigns. All money goes into respective parties campaign coffers, one big pot per party. The party then decides how to best divvy it up. This totally removes the value of large donations by big moneyed investors contributors and makes the entire playing field even. There are many ways this can setup, from having one single pot, which is divided into the states vs. national. Or having two separate donation buckets, one for the national election and one for the state races.
So good on Republicans for voting no on this proposal, it’s just too bad they don’t propose anything worthy of merit to fix the problem. Although, why would they? They’d only be hurting themselves. Like Upton Sinclair once said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”