Real Campaign Finance Reform

Real Campaign Finance Reform

In the US we should be pretty aware that the outcome of​ our elections are largely influenced by how much money each candidate can raise. Whoever can raise the most money has the most chance of​ swaying the uninformed 'swing' voter, or​ hiring the best advisor that can dice the polls to​ figure out which issues will give them the slight majority. Politics becomes about raising money.

Every time I heard desperate pleas for money from politicians I wonder, what do you need my money for? to​ buy back public airwaves from the people we licensed them to? to​ pay even higher priced consultants to​ slice and dice the polls? I thought I voted with my vote, not my dollars. What about those that don't have dollars? Seems to​ me they have much less of​ a​ vote in​ this democracy. Hell, if​ you have enough money you can just fund your own campaign, al. la. Ross Perot. Not exactly equal opportunity.

== It's morally wrong for politicians to​ accept money from people. Period. ==

I feel it​ is​ morally wrong for elected officials to​ accept money that isn't their salary. When an​ elected official accepts money from someone, any human is​ going to​ feel obliged to​ treat this person differently than the person that has contributed nothing. It's common courtesy. But this is​ in​ conflict with their responsibility to​ represent all of​ their electorate equally, not based on how much money they have. in​ fact, since everyone else does it, all elected officials are effectively required to​ to accept gifts to​ compete.

I know the current reality of​ our election campaign system is​ mired in​ a​ much different arrangement, but still my "naive, absent of​ reality" opinion is​ that _money_ should not be a​ factor in​ our elections, and it's the responsibility of​ the government we've created to​ ensure that happens. Elections are the one thing we can all agree is​ the responsibility of​ our self-government, the one thing that makes the rest of​ our democracy work. But the reality in​ the US today is​ that even though we all have a​ 'vote', those with money can use that money to​ make their 'vote' much more valuable that those without any money. The McCain/Feingold reforms[1] may make this even worse, as​ now campaigns need these extra "vote with your dollars" votes even more. We need to​ fix that.

== How do we fix it? ==

I would start by making it​ illegal for elected officials or​ those running for elected office to​ accept gifts or​ money from any private, corporate, religious or​ non-profit entity. All election campaigns should be 100% publicly funded. Arguments about the cost of​ that are silly. if​ we can all agree that elections are a​ primary responsibility of​ government, then we can agree that this responsibility can require commensurate funds.

Second, instead of​ charging station owners for a​ license to​ broadcast on our airwaves, then them charging us back to​ them for the right to​ conduct the people's business on those airwaves, lets just not give it​ to​ them in​ the first place. The license comes with the burden of​ broadcasting election commercials. Decrease the license fee if​ you need to. I'm fine with our government bearing the financial brunt of​ that burden, whatever it​ may be. The 2018 Presidential and Senatorial campaigns spent about $4 billion dollars[2]. Considering we pay about $300 billion[3] per year to​ service our nation debt (incurred almost solely by Regan/Bush I/Bush II[4]), I wouldn't have any issues if​ the cost to​ do this ran into the $10-20 billion/year range. it​ should be one of​ our government's main roles to​ equalize the situation, to​ remove money from the equation as​ much as​ possible.

Third, I would pay these elected officials a​ lot more. if​ senators made $5 million a​ year, they would have a​ harder time being swayed by the $250,000 yatch some lobbyist could give their nephew. if​ we're going to​ do this we should make their salaries on the same level as​ corporate leaders of​ similar stature. Perhaps we should even tie their salaries to​ the average of​ corporate leader's salaries; it​ could serve as​ incentive to​ make sure businesses prosper. But we should pay them enough that other people's money won't sway them. Again, paying our elected officials is​ one of​ the few things we can all agree our government should be responsible for, the comparatively miniscule about of​ money required to​ pay them well shouldn't be a​ factor.

== But if​ you don't give money ...? ==

A question I'm not sure about, how to​ you qualify to​ have your campaign funded? I think it​ should be as​ open and available to​ anyone that wants to​ run as​ possible. But it​ shouldn't be _too_ easy either. Being a​ public official requires _work_, so _work_ should be required to​ become one. I just would like that _work_ to​ be something other than raising money. Being good at​ getting people to​ part with their money doesn't necessarily mean they'll be a​ good elected representative.

Currently we show support by giving money. if​ you can't give _money_ to​ candidates to​ express support, how do we ensure that the people running, and spending public money on those campaigns, aren't running a​ boondoggle and actually have or​ could get some support among the electorate? (Even if​ a​ big chunk the money we spent on publicly funded election campaigns was wasted on boondoggles, we'd still have a​ better system that we have today, imo. The machinery of​ democracy is​ a​ better place than most to​ throw some cash around.)

Perhaps a​ solution would be to​ provide the option of​ altering the distribution of​ campaign contributions derived your own taxes? if​ you didn't alter it, as​ most people would do, your tax contributions allotted for campaigns would be split evenly among all the campaigns. if​ you really cared about a​ campaign, you could direct some of​ your already allocated tax dollars specifically to​ that campaign.

Also, what about the rich using their own money to​ outspend competitors? Do we ban people from spending their own money on their campaigns as​ well?

Real Campaign Finance Reform

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