Third Party & Independents Archives

Government For Sale

Estimates are that $2-4 billion will be expended on midterm elections this cycle. Some are suggesting that we should hold elections yearly in this time of recession. There is some useful tautology from a couple of articles in this Sunday’s Washington Post relating to fundraising. An editorial derides the spending by ‘outside groups’ who give anonymously to influence elections, stating that it’s not plausible or possible to argue that spending by such groups is a healthy development for democracy. Quoting, “To have campaigns underwritten or votes swayed by money whose source is not known is the antithesis of a well-functioning democratic system.” And, quoting Post writer, Ezra Klein, on ‘outside groups’ —much of it has come from corporations trying to buy success with winners, secret donors trying to purchase the votes that will make them richer and ideological hit-groups that delight in the scurrilous attacks that candidates themselves would never make.”

The Supreme Court, in continuing a string of unwise, IMO, decisions regarding campaign finance, ruled this year that corporations may directly contribute to funding ads that are for, or against a political candidate. This ruling left the door open for U.S. owned foreign corporations to provide contribution funds and for PAC’s managed by foreign owned corporations to participate in spending to influence elections as well. The ‘Disclosure Act’, a bill that passed the house but failed in the Senate was designed to require that certain groups that spend to influence elections report their spending and the funding for it. Politicians have a seemingly insatiable appetite for campaign spending and are loath to turn of the money faucet from any quarter.

Regarding campaign finance in general, Klein relates that campaign fundraising in labor intensive and never ending, culminating in high-level frustration for many, otherwise well meaning congresspersons. Klein reports that Sen. Evan Bayh, (D-Ind.) is retiring this year. He wasn’t down in the polls or losing his race, but is just choosing to retire. Sen. Bayh admits that one reason is the never ending need to raise campaign funds. “It’s not uncommon to have a fundraiser for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner, and if you have spare time in between, you go to an office off Capitol Hill and you dial for dollars Then the weekend rolls around, and you get on a plane and travel the countryside with a tin cup in your hand. And it gets worse each cycle.” – “When candidates are spending 90% of their time raising money, that’s time they’re not spending with constituents or with public policy experts.”

As to why congress doesn’t step up to make some definitive changes to campaign finance the reasons are numerous. Klein relates an ex-Senator’s experience in trying to reform the system. “Phil Gramm was our campaign committee chair back then and he tore my picture down in the campaign committee office. Connie Mack and Mitch McConnell came to me and said, “you’re going to kill us.”

Some remain hopeful that a major event involving campaign finance will occur culminating in real campaign finance reform. I don’t hold those views. If some $38 billion expended by lobbyists in 2009 and $2-4 billion expended to influence the 2010 midterm elections is insufficient to cause major consternation with the voting public I can imagine no ‘event’ having the gravity to do so.

IMO, we have three avenues that remain open to restoring the Republic. One, voting out incumbents in large numbers which will serve to weaken the Corpocracy which could lead to, two, the implementation of Article V Convention which would provide for a single threaded approach to government reform, and/or, three, standing up a 3rd Party with a different political attitude. A Party founded in rules that will prevent co-option by the money influence and provide a way to hold Party members, who are elected/appointed to office, accountable for their actions, or lack thereof.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by Roy Ellis at November 2, 2010 11:55 AM
Comments
Comment #312075

Our current campaign finance system is SO Wrong and lacking in any defense. Same as Voting on Tuesday, which precludes so very many Americans from voting at all, not to mention creating long waits and congestion which have a dampening effect on voter turnout. The irony is, both sides wanted to turn out the vote today. But, altering their idiotic maintenance of the Tuesday vote never occurs to them a legislative body. Or, if it does, they so fear change over the status quo, that they won’t support it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 2, 2010 4:55 PM
Comment #312096

Right David. The Republic Sentry Party platform/mission calls for making election day a national holiday as recommended by Joel Hirschhorn in his book “Delusional Democracy”, www.delusionaldemocracy.com. Joel also recommends mandating that each person vote on election day. I’m still on the fence with that one as I’m not sure that forcing people to vote, to pull the lever just to be carrying out their lawful duty, would improve our political lot. Then again, voting could encourage real interest and participation. Room for debate.

Corrupt beyond belief, and it seems to matter little with the people. Maybe they don’t see a viable way to change things. I’m convinced REAL reform can be had but can only come through a 3rd party with a different political attitude, etc.

Otherwise - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at November 2, 2010 6:05 PM
Comment #312109

Roy,
Why you make a good point there is one more way Americans can make a diiference. For why the Tea Party may want to avoid the main stream media machine, Listener and Viewership ratings to the current political shows available can turn off such political talk and force the hands of the pundits to seek other platforms to get their word out.

For example; how long would it take the Cable Companies to change hosts if Americans turned of the 24/7 Political Talking Machine from CNN, Fox, and MSNBC? Just something to think about as America moves forward.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at November 2, 2010 6:51 PM
Comment #312130

Forcing people to vote under penalty of law, is like forcing people to voice their political opinion in a public venue under penalty of law. The vote and political speech are protected rights. But, they were NEVER intended to be compulsory under penalty of law - the unintended consequences of such a move are myriad, as you allude to.

People will fight, dodge, avoid, reject, sabotage, and circumvent force wherever possible. Force is not freedom. Force is not liberty. Force of the King is the reason the colonies engaged in a Revolutionary War. Joel Hirschhorn is simply uninformed and illogical on this particular issue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 2, 2010 8:33 PM
Comment #312163

99.87% of all 200 million voters are VASTLY out-spent by a very tiny 0.3% of the wealthiest voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations of $200 or more.

At any rate, the majority of voters have the government that they elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, at least, possibly, until repeatedly rewarding failure, repeatedly rewarding the duopoly, and repeatedly rewarding FOR-SALE, incompetent, arrogant, and corrupt incumbent politicians in Do-Nothing Congress with 90% re-election rates finally becomes too painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 2, 2010 10:32 PM
Comment #312176

Hmmmm….correction: 99.7%

Posted by: d.a.n at November 3, 2010 12:00 AM
Comment #312439

d.a.n said: “99.87% of all 200 million voters are VASTLY out-spent by a very tiny 0.3% of the wealthiest voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations of $200 or more.”

Why the nation of working men and women voters in this country aren’t storming the Bastille over these statistics and their deleterious consequences, is a source of shame cast upon American politics and democracy, IMO.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 5, 2010 2:41 AM
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