Covert defence operation
Stop Corruption In Campaign Finance
by J.B. Williams
Monday, January 9, 2006
This subject has been a topic of heated debate since the birth of democratic self-governance. The funding of political campaigns in a free democracy is, in fact a form of free political speech and it is protected as such. However corruption, unethical, illegal and immoral campaign funding is not protected by the Constitution or Bill of Rights and if we the people ever intend to run our country again, we have to stop the abuses that dominate campaign financing today.
Touted as the bi-partisan silver bullet that would end all campaign finance abuses in a single shot, the 2002 McCain-Feingold sought to remove all invisible, below radar, under-the-table big corrupt special interest money from the political arena. It wasn't bi-partisan really and the bill instead, led to the biggest fat cat special interest campaign bonanza in world history in the following 2004 election cycle. Combined, two candidates spent over a billion dollars seeking a $400,000 per year job, most of that money coming from a handful of fat cats through 527 organizations not controlled by the FEC at all, all of them seeking favor in Washington DC.
Three well known America-bashing socialist billionaires spent more than $100 million of their own money in their effort to unseat George Bush. No matter how you feel about George Bush, you can't feel good about three men buying any candidate's way into the oval office, especially if they are America-bashing socialists.
Let that be a lesson to ya
Never ask a politician to define what is or isn't acceptable campaign practice, no matter which side of the aisle he sits. It's like asking a bank robber to establish acceptable bank security measures and then sentencing limits for convicted bank robbers.
Liberals say they want big corporate money out of the system claiming that big corporations fund Republicans. We'll get to how true that is (or isn't) in a minute. Conservatives want big union money out of the system and there's no getting around the fact that almost every union campaign dollar goes to Democrats, despite the fact that about 50% of union workers actually privately vote Republican.
But neither of these issues are really the biggest problem with campaign finance today. At worst, there should be limits to how much these organizations can donate and by what methods. As long as we can see where the money is coming from, where it is going, and limit the amount of involvement they can have in the campaign process, it is a manageable problem. Both should have a right to support their interests politically, since government has a say in regulating how they operate today.
The BIG corruption comes in a few other areas that most prefer not to talk about. None of these issues should be partisan, though like everything else today, they are. In no particular order, they are as follows
Corporate campaign funding
If you study corporate campaign contributions in detail, you will learn that big corporations invest in both political parties equally. These are business people who understand how the system works and how to win in that system no matter what happens at the polls. They buy favor in both candidates so that no matter who wins, their interests are protected. There is some slight variation between which corporate groups tilt to either side. But they all support both sides and at the end of the analysis, the net effect of corporate campaign funding is a big fat net zero
If you don't believe me, go look at where corporations invest in politics for yourself.
National funding of State office campaigns
Both House of Representatives and Senate offices are "state" offices, allegedly held by a vested resident of the state, supposedly elected by their constituents in that state, representing the interests of that state and the people who reside there. So why do we allow campaign money to cross state lines in state office campaigns?
Today, New York has a Senator who was not from New York - whose only interest in New York was the power New York's senate seat offered her. Had there been a California seat open at the time, she'd be a resident of California today. Her campaign was funded largely by donations from outside of New York, namely California. If it is true that money buys favor in American politics, (and it is), then California bought favor with the New York Senator and by doing so, elected the Senator of New York. State seats should have to raise campaign money only in the state they seek to represent
period. This goes for all state seats. I picked on Hillary only because her situation is the best current example of this abuse.
As an aside, Tom Delay (R) of Texas is charged as we speak with using "national" funds to win "state" races. Time will tell whether on not he is guilty of any wrong doing by law. But there is little doubt that if he used funds from outside of Texas to win state races, it was wrong. But this same rule should apply to every other politician in the country as well, whether raised directly by private fund raisers outside of the state, or funneled through national party funds.
Buying one's own power
If it is truly the will of the people we are interested in, then all political candidates should be limited to campaign funding from those people. It should not be legal to purchase one's own seat based solely upon the depth of their personal wallet. New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine (D) bought his senate seat for a mere $64 million, $61 million of which came from his personal bank account. Also from New Jersey, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) bought his seat for only $3.3 million, a much better deal. But again, half of that money came from his personal bank account. Again, the best examples are provided by these two Democrats. But Republicans have tried it on occasion too and regardless of party affiliation, nobody should be able to buy their own seat in a Congress allegedly of, by and for the people. If it were Republicans doing it, Democrats would be screaming!
Party versus candidate funding
It's no secret that political power rests in the money. The golden rule applies, "he with the gold - makes the rules." Our system of self-governance was designed to maintain political power in the hands of the governed. Many believe this applies only to their vote and as a result, they increasingly feel that their vote no longer has power. The fact is--the power rests more in their money than in their vote. As this is the single largest problem with today's campaign finance practices, it warrants special attention
The people gave up their power when they handed their money over to the political parties. When we send our money to the general party funds, we send our power along with it. From that moment forward, the parties will decide (with our power) who we will get to choose from in any election. This causes the general public perception (and reality) that we don't really get any candidates worthy of our vote from either party today.
The simple solution is to only donate to individual candidates, sending NO money (power) to the political parties at all. If the people want their power back, they will have to take their money back first. This will, of course require folks to know their individual candidates and to make independent decisions based on the individual qualifications and belief systems of individual candidates. The alternative is to allow the parties to continue choosing for you. But realize that this makes all candidates beholden to the two parties who hold our power ($$$), not to the people who gave up that power ($$$).
The special circumstances of Washington DC
With a population of only a little more than 500,000 Washington DC is by far the single largest campaign funding center in the nation. California is the second largest donor state, with a population of almost 36,000,000--raising only half that of Washington DC. Residents of Washington DC spend more than twice as much as any other state, ten times that of the average state, on political campaign contributions. The national average per capita campaign donation is only about $3.00 per person. Washington DC's average is a whopping $455 per person on a per capita basis, more than a 130-1 margin over average America. Any guesses why?
Who resides in Washington DC? Namely Federal employees, Washington lobbyists and related entities. Washington DC campaign funding favors the Democratic Party 60-40. The answer why is simple. How do federal employees guarantee their own future, payroll, working conditions, pensions, etc.? Easy, they invest in and vote for candidates who seek to grow the federal government.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich is currently calling to outlaw all campaign fund raising in the District of Columbia both due to federal employees investing in self-preservation and lobbyists wining and dining candidates for huge sums. While he is exactly right, for all the right reasons, can you imagine any Democrat supporting such a notion under these circumstances?
It's worth noting that District of Columbia residents also enjoy the highest income per capita in the nation as well. Not exactly the "average working stiff" Democrats claim to represent.
These are the primary problems with campaign finance in America today. Without addressing each of them, the federal government will remain on its current collision course with destiny and the American people will remain largely powerless.
Solve these issues and the people will once again be self-governed. The people have the power to change all of this and the future of our country is dependent upon righting these wrongs. If they choose not to do anything about it, they will soon find themselves without the power to effect positive change. Both parties operate in a vacuum today. But with the people's consent
JB Williams is a business man, a husband, a father, and a writer. A no nonsense commentator on American politics, American history, and American philosophy. He is published nationwide and in many countries around the world. JB. Williams can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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