Campaign Finance Reform
by James Hall, from the Left
It's not very often that I agree with James From the Right, but then campaign finance reform is something that nearly all
Americans can agree is necessary. Unsurprisingly, the campaign finance situation currently favors incumbents, but even they
weary of the constant work of fund-raising these days, and fear the opposition of big-pockets millionaires who can dispense
with fund-raising altogether and outspend them. McCain-Feingold is built upon these fears.
The present system
mostly benefits wealthy donors and corporations who can afford to give a lot and thereby gain access to the highest halls
of power. These people will continue to find the loopholes in any system we create until we do the following: 1) Grant public
access to television for all serious candidates vying for office; 2) Publicly finance the rest of a candidate's expenses.
These two things take the special interests right out of the picture and put the voters back in it.
expense involved in any political campaign is television. Current FCC regulations give the public's airwaves to private corporations
for a song and a dance. Instead, for their lucrative licenses each television and radio station should be required to give
public interest broadcasts to candidates during the election cycle. This can be accomplished by scheduling live debates,
giving candidates time for statements on the issues, and giving each candidate some free air time for campaign commercials.
Once television is taken care of, the remaining expenses are light. Public monies can finance a campaign staff,
printing literature, and even personal appearances by candidates so that voter gets to know them. This form of public financing
is money well spent, because it prevents tax money from being spent later to pay back wealthy donors and corporations who
get more than their money's worth from tax breaks,corporate welfare, one-sided laws, and public appropriations that ultimately
we the common taxpayer pays for--in spades.
With television and campaign staffing publicly financed, there's no
need for politicians to get themselves in hock to special interests in order to campaign vigorously for any position. Special
interests can run all the issue ads they want, too. And newly elected politicians can then go about serving the people who
elected them in the first place. What a refreshing idea.
Fine, James: I'll dump Dick Grabhardt, if you'll dispense with Trent Loot. Right now, however, politicians eagerly play the
partisan game, telling their supporters that any change in the campaign finance system helps their political enemies. Some
even equate money with free speech, as though only millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations had a right to the
loudest voices in our land. Last time I looked up "free" in the dictionary, there were no dollar values in the
Unfortunately our politicians will continue to try and rig the system to keep themselves in power until
we assure them that there's a cost to their actions. Only then will they do our bidding.
Until that day arrives,
Americans can best serve their country and themselves by supporting campaign reform from the bottom up. Many cities and at
least three states across the country have approved publicly financed campaigning, and there's room for more. If we can continue
this fine trend at the local level, and put pressure on our national politicians to pass a bill requiring television time
for public candidates for office, we can go a long way to getting our government back.
James Hall, From the Left
Campaign Finance Reform
At the outset, let us all be realistic and admit that very few politicians seek serious Campaign Finance Reform. The incumbents
have such a distinct advantage to an unknown challenger that those in power have every incentive to maintain the current system.
So what is all this commotion about a 'so called' reform? Well, as most efforts for renovation, the design of the fundamental
foundation is ignored and the facade is only altered.
McCain-Fiengold has been discussed at length, with most of
the criticism that it will restrict Free Speech, and therefore, will be struck down as unconstitutional. Critiquing this bill
is useless since this proposal is not a thoughtful attempt for real reform. It strictly distorts the debate and creates a
reason to oppose an earnest change in a system that everyone knows is flawed. Only those who have direct vested interest in
benefiting from the lobbying process would defend the current scheme. The reason that the public yawns at the discussion
is that they know that the pros will only accept an approach that secures their retention and hold on power.
know that the real fight is always over gerrymandering. With the new demographic from the 2000 Census, we will have a reshaping
of districts that will force several incumbents out of a seat. This realignment in politics is the raw essence of political
combat. Who will have a vote and who will be relegated to lobby. So what is a realistic formula for a modicum of common sense
that can be achieved?
The one aspect of the current system that most politicians hate is the fund raising chicken
dinner circuit. The time, effort and drain on their schedule and constitution is about the only real incentive that the present
crop of legislature have to ring out the enormous amounts of contributions that are necessary to run for office. Most politicians
are affluent, but are not mega rich. They understand that if the present trends continue, only the wealthiest millionaires
will run, with the use of their own personal funds. Money doesn't guarantee a win, but if a neophyte has the money and is
willing to spend it, the race will become enormously expensive. This may be the only genuine reason for a restructure of election
campaigns that will convince the current partisans to get serious.
Two simple but effective changes could dramatically
alter the landscape. As a condition for the granting of a public license for their broadcast frequency and cable access, all
television and cable networks would be required to donate free air time for any candidate that could qualify for a double
digit result in the electorate. The low threshold for third party candidates is crucial to garner public support. It may be
one of the few ways to wake these sleepy citizens from their slumber. The second reform would be that only contributions from
registered voters within a candidate's district would be legal to use. The elimination of all PAC, corporate, union and lobbyist
assistance, in whatever and all forms, is a major source of the endless spiral. Groups would be able to advocate ideas and
policies, just not endorsements of candidates or parties. It is time for the voter to consider which candidate holds a particular
position, and the free media air time would allow for that message to be broadcast.
Prospects for true reform are
always slim. The pain for current office holders is tolerable, and their gain in greater control over their time with the
reduction in continual fund raising outings, should not be underestimated.
Debate must not be stifled. We need more
discussion and less spin. Influence can never be eliminated from the process, but the volume of useless noise can be reduced.
Only pressure from the electorate will create an environment for a climate change. Politicians are no different from any other
enterprise executive. They respond to circumstances that favor their interest! Being played like a yo-yo by influence peddlers
gets old fast. An appeal to reduce the influence of the fat cats, has merit for the career politician.
is presented because most political activists still believe in the election process. More dispirited warriors, have shed their
naiveté as their confidence in the moral congruity in the American public has waned. Term limits are a natural compliment
to campaign finance reform, but the two mix like oil and water to the incumbent. Linking them together is logical, but not
Loopholes will be found and circumvention of the rules will be sought. We should not forget that politics
is always about the use of force to compel others to adopt certain behavior. The only freedom that we have, is that which
we struggle to create and defend for ourselves. Politicians are courtesans in drag by nature. They will never agree to meaningful
reform unless they perceive that there is a distinct benefit to them, over the pain that is the alternative, from the present
circumstance. Your job is to invent that pain for them! My task is to offer them a solution for relief. Both of our duties
is to see that we the people don't get defrauded in the process.
James Hall aka SARTRE
Not to be misled the family schism is incisive, and this temporary aberration, that looks like agreement, is short lived.
The laws of probability have just come up that James from the Left is right for once!
Maybe the topic lends itself
to unanimity, so why do the politicians just ignore all of us? Obviously, we are inconvenient gnats that just irritate. So
why doesn't pressure ever form to force change? If those on the Left are serious about reform, why not join the dedicated
gang that is known as RIGHT and make history?
Could it be that their buddy government supports will get furious that
you are rocking the boat or is it that you only want to reduce the expenditures, while keeping the same hacks?
we can agree on this one, why not accept that the current crop of thieves need to be retired? Surprise me and join in on that
one too. Or maybe the next question will be how we discourage and restrict the Left from voting at all.
- 'The Right'