Saturday, February 20, 2016

On Campaign Finance

I had a discussion the other day with a good friend of mine who is a heavy hitter in the "centrist" Democrat realm, an official at a moderate, left of center think tank. We had this chat over lunch, and at one point, we began talking about campaign finance, mostly on the Presidential level. I repeated my standard, "unlimited contributions from individuals, with 100% transparency." In what in retrospect, I now see as a potentially brilliant codicil to this approach, he said, "sure--but every penny raised in a State has to be spent in that State".  I asked him to elaborate on this and here's what he said:

1.  It reinforces federalism, something the framers drove into the Constitution but which has been chipped away at over the past two centuries. That this would come from a committed Democrat was mind-bending and reassuring.

2.  He acknowledged the "free-speech" problems with this approach, but then offered that ALL campaign finance law abridges free speech in some ways, but this way does so less than others (at least in theory"

3.  His answer to the "rich guys buying elections" charge boils down to this: take whatever party's big dollar donor evil doer that you want--they get to spend the hell out of themselves--on activities in ONE STATE.  At most, they "buy" two Senators and one state for a President--if that's the way you want this to be viewed.  This means the Koch Brothers essentially could buy....Kansas.

There is much to be considered here.  What do you think about this?  I am really intrigued by it.


LL said...

It's not a bad idea, but how many really rich people limit themselves to one home? Given this scenario Koch #1 buys NY, Koch wife #1 buys FL, Koch #2 buys CA, Koch wife #2 buys OH, and to keep it in the family, Koch child buys KS.

If you have enough money, state boundaries don't matter - and Super Pacs can trowel the money anywhere they want to in order to fill the gaps.

Back to the T-word. Trump's critics charge him bitterly with giving money to Hillary or Harry Reid (as well as to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) in the past. The Chinese axiom is that it's better to own a politician than to be one. Trump and others understand that the nature of American politics is pay-to-play. The problem with both Trump and Sanders (different funding mechanisms) is that they are not wolfing down fruit from the poisonous tree. They are grinding through their campaigns without being beholden to the Koch Bros/Soros types of the world and that's dangerous to the monied elite. If you're George Soros, you want to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom any time you have the urge. The Obamas used that room as a B & B for fund raising.

Sanders may be a senile old communist, but he's funding his campaign $20 at a time. And maybe both he and Trump are teaching everyone a lesson of sorts?

J in StL said...

It presumes the Leftist Oligarchy doesn't have phones and that each one of them will act as a random individual independent of all the others. The real effect would be that they would draw straws to see who would buy what state. And since there are more Leftist Oligarchs than states, they can be very strategic in how they allocate their resources.

The real question isn't how to get money out of politics. The question is how do you account for the moneyed influence of the Democratic Propagandist of the Corporate Press (GE = NBC, COMCAST = ABC, etc) and their active campaigning for their Corporatist candidates. Under the one state rule, would NBC only be allowed to cover campaigns in NY, Comcast in Fl...etc? Of course, the Left might like that idea because there are a lot more Leftist media outlets than Fox.

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