Skip to comments.Campaign Finance Reform? Here Are Some Completely Insane Ideas
Posted on 01/29/2010 6:18:53 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Each idea below is totally unwinnable, downright daft, and probably unconstitutional to boot. Some are mutually incompatible. But each would effectively end the corruption that campaign finance reform advocates worry about. Each would also show more respect for individual liberty than the usual fare we get from them. And theres even a method to my madness, which I will explain below.
Life Terms Members of Congress serve for life. Few special interests will throw money at the political process in this system, because the cycle of funding and response wont exist anymore. Elections will be hard to predict and infrequent, and once the elections over, the member-elect can vote however he wants till he kicks the bucket. Parties and partisanship will be vastly weaker also a good thing as reformers see it.
Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment We hear much about the corporate influence in politics, and many worry that it is bought through campaign contributions. The solution to the problem of faction, as our founders understood it, was not to prohibit faction, which would restrict liberty, but to set one faction against another. Let the corporate interests have the House of Representatives. The Senate will once more be elected by state legislatures, which will use their powers to advance interests not necessarily in line with the corporate agenda. Faction will check faction, and free speech will survive.
Election by Lot In ancient Athens, important officers were commonly chosen by lottery among all the citizens. This method, called sortition, may be asking a bit much of our citizens today, but it would certainly end the problem of shady campaign contributions. This measure would be most effective if it came with a life pension for former members, to avoid all fears of bribery and to compensate citizens for their interrupted lives.
The Old Legislators Home Much like sortition, ostracism has a fine pedigree in western democracy. Heres to bringing it back.
We hear a lot about the revolving door between lobbying and serving in Congress. Lets end it once and for all, not by restricting lobbying groups, but by restricting congressmen. Whenever anyone retires from Congress, they arent allowed to go back to work in the private sector as anything. Theyre permanently retired.
Well send them to the remote, though very pleasant, Hawaiian island of Molokai, where they will be maintained in idleness, with all reasonable expenses paid, for the rest of their lives. (An inducement to early retirement would also do much of the same good work as term limits.)
The symbolism is unbeatable. Molokai is almost as far from DC as you can get while remaining in the country. Its geographically separated from the rest of the world. Its even home to a former leper colony. At the Old Legislators Home, ex-members of Congress could do whatever they liked, from writing their (uncompensated) memoirs to body surfing. None of us would ever have to watch if we didnt want to. If the revolving door was still too much of a problem, we could include senior staffers in the deal, too.
The point of mentioning all these silly proposals is not that I favor them. I dont. The point is that if we are concerned about Congressional incentives, then we should change Congressional incentives. Its downright bizarre to see 535 people behaving badly and conclude that we should regulate 300 million people who are not them. Its even more bizarre, Id say, than some of the above.
Replace the 17th with an amendment that Senators are elected in unicameral session of the state with a simple majority. Senators are appointed for 6 years and can be recalled by the legislature again in unicameral session, with a 2/3rds majority.
Forget the document and just erase the bureaucracy and start over.
Start with a $0 budget and go from there.
1. No foreign contributions
2. No cash contributions
3. Total disclosure
That's all the CFR we need.
I think that treats the symptom and not the cause. The problem is the feds not sticking to the enumerated powers and the 10th amendment. If they were - no reason to spend large amounts of money to influence them.
May be too late to put the genie back in the bottle though - so band-aids will be tried.
Collect a welfare check -- no voting for you Work for ACORN, SEIU, IRS, EPA, OSHA, Us department of birdseed regulation or NEA -- no voting for you This would eliminate these people voting for themselves a pay increase from the pockets of the productive and therefor the source of much of the corruption.
Not exactly on point, but I think it’d help:
If a Senator or Congressman pulls an Anti-American, traitorous, lying, deceitful, selfish or fraudulent stunt...haul them out tarred-and-feathered, quarter them or hang them.
Even if no one else in the US gets this treatment, do it with our elected officials.
Here’s my idea. Each state establishes an Office of Campaign Finance,(OCF). When someone runs for any office, they must register at the OCF and are assigned an account number. All campaign contributions are made to the OCF in the candidates name, and are assigned to the account anonymously. ALL campaign expenditures must come from this account and anyone can contribute as much as they like. If the candidate finds out the source of the contribution, both the candidate and the donor are charged with bribery and the donation is reallocated to the COMPETITORS campaign. This insures that the political parties will police each other. The idea also, is that donations to a campaign will be made based on political philosophy, and not specific promises to a particular contributor. If a contributor secretly admits to a candidate a donation, there is no way to know if it is a lie or not, because contributions are kept secret until after the election.
Some of these ideas have merit, even if only for a good laugh or a wicked grin at the possibilities.
If we are going to solve the problem, I think that we need to start by asking the right question. Yes, there are problems associated with campaign finance, but that’s not where the problem starts.
The problem is that too much power has been usurped by the government and they control too much money and wield too much power. The natural reaction to a body with the power to destroy you or to enhance you is to curry favor.
We need to take back the government and limit their ability to pick winners and losers and to dole out favors and punishment. Take away that power and the need for most of the band aids will disappear.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (It was profound when I made it up all those years ago and it is profound now. LOL)
Just keep McCain out of any CFR!
[snip] McCains Law Preserved Loophole for Tribal Contributions
“Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, says the campaign finance reform law he sponsored in 2002 intentionally left open a loophole that allows Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to an unlimited number of candidates for federal office.
Before McCains law passed, most Americans were allowed to give an aggregate of only $25,000 to party committees and candidates for federal office in any two-year election cycle. Indian tribes were not subject to that cap. McCains law lifted the aggregate-contribution cap to $95,000 for ordinary American contributors, but declined to impose any cap at all on Indian tribes.
When I asked McCain last week why this was the case, he said, Because tribes are sovereign entities. They are treated on a government-to-government relationship, and were looking at that whole issue.
I asked, But it was an intentional thing? McCain replied, Oh yeah. Because they are sovereign nations unquote. We sign treaties with them.
When I pointed out that the U.S. does not allow contributions from foreign governments, McCain said, No, we dont. But theyre American citizens. So, its a unique kind of a status.