Campaign Finance Reform: A MisnomerSubmitted by Ziggy on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 06:02
How do we solve the issue of campaign finance reform? So-called "experts" and talking heads tell us to follow the money. We are encouraged to deride large corporations who buy influence and seek to stop them at any cost. When a single person or a small group can effectively purchase and direct the votes of any representative, they steal the voice of an entire constituency. Growing popular opinion suggests that donations be regulated and monitored.
The problem is that this tactic follows the money in the wrong direction. The exchange of influence for money has two participants: the buyer and the seller. Corporations will only donate tremendous sums of money if there is influence to be bought. In other words, if politicians stopped selling, the influence market would go bust. So long as politicians are not held accountable in this transaction, their influence will be bought. Guaranteed. Cap any source you want. Corporations? Muzzle them. Super PACs? Abolish them. Those are only the vehicles that exist above water. Ever seen an iceberg?
The answer is one born from simple economic concepts. Currently, the incentive to doll out influence for campaign money is much greater than the disincentive. The candidates with the most money win roughly 85% of all Federal elections in the United States. It makes a lot of sense that career politicians would chase money; more dollars equals greater job security.
The key to ending this corruption and returning a voice to the common people is not to suppress the voice of corporations. Instead, the key is to end the ready and willing corruption of our representatives. How do we do that? Make misrepresentation an act with heavy, heavy consequences. Hypothetically, say the penalty for selling influence were life in prison - think a few representatives might think twice before voting for somebody other than their constituency?
The question then becomes, "How do you catch corrupt politicians?" Start by paying attention. Our society spends all of its time watching reality TV and sports. Our children can name all 22 offensive and defensive starters for their favorite football team but not a single Supreme Court Justice, not to mention their own Congressional Representatives. We should not be shocked at the corruption that has engulfed our government - nobody was paying them any attention! I have a lengthy solution to this involving a Constitutional Amendment to create a new check on the legislative branch, held by the people themselves, but its late and I would like to see if this whole idea goes over well before I dive into that typing marathon.
The burgeoning movement to monitor and regulate who can donate and how they can donate only serves to redraw and restrict our rights in an age where they seem to fall by the day. If the answer is to restrict freedom, then it is not the answer. In essence, the people are being asked to give up more freedom because their politicians are endlessly irresponsible. People have the right to spend the fruits of their labor on whatever - or whomever - they like, and also the right to spend that money anonymously if they so choose.
If our politicians could not be bought and people actually paid attention to their representatives, it would not matter who donated or how much they donated.
"Campaign Finance Reform" is not the proper name for the issue which needs to be addressed. The issue ought to be "Political Corruption Reform". We should not be concerned that companies are trying to buy influence, we should be concerned that our representatives willingly sell it.
Ron Paul 2012