Friday, December 02, 2011

Reform #3: Campaign financing

This is Reform #3 in a three-part series on how to make all our votes count equally.

I don't think it takes much to argue that campaign financing has gotten out of control. Stephen Colbert has made it his mission to point out the obsurdities of the Citizen's United case, which overturned the McCain-Feingold Act, and lifted restrictions on how corporations, unions, and other organizations spend money on political campaigns (among other things), effectively saying, "Corporations are people," and therefore have the right to free speech. Colbert's deliciously meta Super PAC objective is to spew propaganda that corporations are people, by exploiting the very decision that allowed the PAC its free speech.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC - "Corporations Are People"
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It's no surprise that much of the money raised for campaigns comes from organizations (as opposed to individuals), and that money buys influence. This ability to buy influence in government is a detriment to equality and is the basis of many grievances outlined by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Campaign finance laws are nothing new, and they're not out of reach. In the wake of state-wide corruption, Connecticut created The Citizen's Election Program (PDF), which establishes public grants for state-level candidates who agree to specific donation and spending limits. The Fair Elections Now Act, co-sponsored by Connecticut's John Larson (my representative) similarly makes House candidates rely primarily on small dollar contributions, $100. Of course, this doesn't cover Senate or Presidential elections. Apparently nobody cares to reform that.

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