No on Campaign Finance Amendment

No on Campaign Finance Amendment

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

And finally,

  1. 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.”

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Clinton Hermann

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. ~Thomas Jefferson

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4 Responses to No on Campaign Finance Amendment

  1. I like your ideas, though I’m not sure how enforcement of #3 would actually work without introducing a whole host of new regulations (defining, among other things, what counts as “campaign” speech). Any thoughts?

    As for #4, what would you do about third parties? Do they get money? Under what criteria?

    • I think for #3 to work, you need to pair it with #4. A reduction in the amount of money available, should inherently lead to a reduction of time spent campaigning. I suppose you could create a federal law which states any campaigning, be it for a policy or person, must not begin until 6 months before the date of the election. Just off the top of my head.

      As far as third parties go, I guess there would need to be some sort of threshold which would need to be met in order to obtain an equal sharing of the money. It would likely depend on how the system is set up. If it’s done federally, or state by state. I think it would be better suited to be done state by state. That way, you could create both a federal pot which would be for presidential candidates, and then a state pot which would be for anyone running within in the state. Now that I’m writing this, I see it growing quite complicated. Hmm…..

      • I agree that #3 would need to grow out of #4. I’d prefer that to creating any law tasked with regulating campaign speech.

        The complexity of third parties/independent candidates is always what gets me in any public financing scheme.

  2. I’m with you up until #4. To me, that would seem to transfer enormous amounts of power to the R and D. You have representatives in each camp that currently thrive in their niche audiences that don’t blend with the traditional party lines. If you were to force their campaign’s finances through the party, the party could force them to align better or not get the money.

    I see this one as the wrong direction, politically speaking. The 2 party system, while currently a necessary evil, creates a lot of the idiotic meaninglessness in washington. It hyperfocuses on false issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) simply because they are binary, while leaving the more important issues undervalued because they involve a million shades of gray and real understanding/compromise. The more the party can ‘force’ its representatives to mirror it’s idiocy, the worse off the republic is.

    I agree with the other 3 whole-heartedly.

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