The New Constitution: Amendment XII – election finance
All elections shall be publicly financed; no individual, corporate, commercial or other private or publicly held entity shall contribute directly to any official, candidate or political party; all citizens are free to designate a portion of their annual tax contribution to a general election fund. No contributions to the electoral process shall be made by foreign interests, either individual or institutional. Election funds shall be administered on a non-partisan basis and no candidate or party demonstrating a reasonable expectation of electoral viability shall be denied access to funding.
Elected officials should be responsible to the citizens and the public interest. Our system has been so thoroughly co-opted by wealthy special interests, however, that it often appears as though politicians are actively working against the people.
The only way to assure that our officials attend to the will of the public is to eliminate completely any and all avenues of influence peddling, and that means getting private money 100% out of the electoral cycle.
I have argued repeatedly at S&R for significant increases in public election financing. I’ve gone so far as to recommend that Congress agree to underwrite the expenses of every statewide and national election in the country. Would it be cheap? Well, compared with what?
What does our current dismal system cost? Stagnant growth of the middle class. Accelerated transfer of wealth upward arguably linked to that wealth underwriting elections. As long as the wealth of a very few outbids the rest of us for the attention and favors of Congress, we will remain mired in American un-exceptionalism.
This is great, but how to approach the “free speech” aspect? You know, as in, “I want to print up 5,000 flyers on a candidate I endorse, and you have no right to tell me I can’t.” And that could be extended to commercials also. And the internet.
Of all the ways in which various parties would attempt to end-run the amendments in TNC, this is one that’s at the very top. Yes, citizens have the right to free speech, and that would extend to things like blogs and other forms of individual communication. Would the Koch Brothers seek to print a zillion flyers or set up their own very well-financed site? Very likely.
This is a spot where various rights potentially conflict, and it is not unanticipated. It will eventually fall to the legislature and courts to draw the boundaries, and my guess is that the best way of approaching it is first make sure that we distinguish between an individual and a person who has incorporated him/herself. Beyond that, it probably boils down to something like the limit on individual donations to a candidate we have right now.
I have to wonder if the “contribute directly to” will be enough to keep big business from “loaning” their chosen candidates the use of office space, automobiles, aircraft, stadiums, etc. that the little guys would have to pay for out of the budgets they have from their public funding if they were to get the same usage?
Hmmm. Good question.
As the resident S&R big business guy, I will guarantee you my sort will find a way.
I guess we could always nationalize everything. Worked for the Soviets.