In my previous post I wrote about gerrymandering and lobbying. Now let’s look at the actual campaign finance ideas.
So long as candidates have to raise money to run for office there is going to be corruption. The rich and powerful will open their wallets and expect some sort of consideration in return. The most effective solution is to not allow any campaign donations over a small amount per citizen… and I mean person, not corporation. Once we limit donations we need some other way to finance campaigns.
I propose a tax on corporations specifically to finance campaigns. Any tax is likely to be less than these companies currently spend on lobbying activities. This, along with the anti-lobbying piece, does not mean that corporations and special interest groups cannot petition congress to consider their positions. Of course they can do that. They should make a well stated case for any position they support. They just can’t buy support with donations and other spiffs.
The tax on corporations may be just for companies over a certain size. But however it is structured, it should not produce the highest numbers typically spent by a modern US campaign. Those huge numbers should not be needed if the next provisions of the plan are also adopted.
Campaigns should be limited to a certain timeline. The year-long and multiple year long campaigns end up being more like propaganda campaigns slinging mud everywhere they go. The public is over loaded with political ads. Three to six months is plenty of time to campaign with debates and ads to spread a pertinent political platform.
In addition, we need a law that makes it illegal for media, print or radio or TV, to publish verifiably false information in news or political ads. It is hard to prove something is true, and there are many grey areas. But if something can be proven false, the media would have the legal responsibility to not allow that information to be published or aired. This would mean a big change for Fox News and for most political ads. Political ads must include ads for candidates as well as ads for or against any ballot issue.
Most Americans do not realize the enormous sums of money that pour into elections to try and sway public opinion on various topics from marijuana legalization to health care, fracking and food labeling. Special interest groups, usually from outside the state, pour millions into a campaign to defeat a measure put forth by the people. This must stop. People must be able to learn about the issues without the lies and aggressive tactics to sway their opinion. This is what the Supreme Court called indirect lobbying.
Indirect lobbying is a nice spin on what is accurately called propaganda. Indirect lobbying is exactly what the Russians are doing to America in attempt to destabilize the government and turn Americans against one another. So, laws that make false statements illegal will help with healing a bit of the divide too.
With a combination of anti-gerrymandering, anti-lobbying, corporate tax funded elections and truth in news and advertising laws we can see a dramatic turnaround towards returning to a government by the people and for the people.