The Weekend Read
Is There Hope for Campaign Finance Reform?

Supporters of campaign finance reform keep trying to fix our current system from within. But it’s time to change to our campaign finance system itself.

Published on: April 5, 2014
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  • Fat_Man

    On one hand on the other hand. Give up. Campaign finance laws were enacted to maintain the incumbency of the insiders. Legalizing them requires the Supreme Court to pretend that the right of free speech that protects lap dances and obscene gestures does not extend to campaigns for public office. Straining at gnats, and swallowing camels.

    Campaign finance law supporters like to pretend that massive contributions by labor unions and wealthy liberals like the sonderkommando, George Soros, are deemed to be morally pure and not corrupting. Others like the libertarian Koch brothers, no so much so.

    The real problem is not campaign contributions, nor is it corruption, it is a Federal government grown far beyond its constitutional sphere that picks winners and losers and takes the taxpayers money and hands it out to its designated fair haired boys. The solution is not regulating campaign speech, which is the core of the first amendment, it is cutting the Federal government back to its constitutional scope.

    • Fred

      Yeah, good luck with that.When you have nearly half the country dependent on government handouts and much of the other half employed in handing them out, limited government ain’t gonna sell.

  • Michael Brazier

    Against Lessig: the problem isn’t that politicians are dependent on the wealthy to gain office. The problem is that the wealthy are dependent on politicians, to shield them from meddling regulators and activists (AKA “educated experts in the civil service” and “concerned citizens”.) That’s the true systemic corruption in our democracy, that the only way to gain or keep wealth is to pay off a legislator. And that corruption is built into the Blue Model; it isn’t a flaw in the welfare state, but an intended goal, to ensure that private wealth serves “the public good” as interpreted by technocrats living off the public purse. As long as the Blue Model rules, campaign finance reform cannot possibly do more than apply a Band-Aid to an abscess.

    If Lessig wants to define “corruption” as the Framers did, he has to face the fact that, in their eyes, nearly everything that US governments have done since 1933 would be corruption. You don’t get to be a cafeteria originalist, taking only those parts of the original meaning you like.

  • Anthony

    If as Lord Acton is reputedly to have said, power corrupts; then it (in our system( usually gets a helping hand from money. The campaign finance system, in addition to being a free speech modern legal conundrum, is an influence system where office holders burdened by huge campaign costs and perhaps acquired expensive tastes are open to “Donor”. So as has been mentioned below, six in one hand, half dozen in the other; campaign financing, not free speech interpretations, is a systemic product. We need to understand more clearly the politico-economic system that makes it so functional (what interests despite party affiliation largely dominate campaign financing). And does proposals (improper dependence/public funding system) by Lessig and Teachout counter balance influence of money without systemic overhaul?

  • Jim__L

    The only way to reduce moneyed interests from Washington is to reduce the impact of Washington on those moneyed interests — that is, reduce the scope of government regulation.

    Another way is to stop discouraging religion expression in government… strong moral ideology can provide a resistance to perverse incentives like little (or nothing) else can.

  • qet

    No; a thousand times, no. Of all the hare-brained political ideas I have ever come across, public funding of campaigns ranks at the very top. All that accomplishes is transferring the influence to a different set of actors, actors the proponents believe are safely, permanently beyond the reach of any thought or viewpoint not approved of by them. And is there any serious person who seriously believes that any new “system” can’t be captured, gamed, abused like the present one? Such naifs have no business coming within 100 miles of any of our political institutions.

    I don’t know Berkowitz’ political tilt, but the media only ever present the money evil as a Republican one. Ignored are the tens of millions poured into political campaigns by the AFL-CIO, AFT, etc., which have influenced far more elections for far longer than any evil Republican billionaire. The left’s own billionaires are also always, conveniently, left out of the account: Soros, Steyer, Bloomberg, wealthy Hollywood actors and producers, etc. And I happen to live in Massachusetts, which is and has been a one-party state for as long as anyone can remember. Any such “reform” here is a dead, meaningless letter, a staged performance for the denizens of Cambridge and the Back Bay and the op-ed staff of the Boston Globe, to give the appearance of doing “governance” when the only matter of governance to the Party here is whether our taxes are to be raised by X% or Y% in a given year and how (not even whether) the State is to now supervise yet another of the few remaining areas of life not already subject to detailed State supervision, reporting and control.

    No, the weekend read on McCutcheon is not the Lessig tripe cited; it is, rather, the piece by Kevin Williamson of the National Review from last week. Remember–politics is a continuation of war by other means, and no reform is going to change that.

  • gubblerchechenova

    Campaign finance reform is a red herring. The REAL problem of American politics is Jewish control. Jews control 90% of the media. Jews provide 65%of funds to Democrats and 50% of funds to Republicans, thus owning all the politicians who are nothing but whores. Jews control Ivy League schools. Jews run the courts. Though only 2% of the population, Jews own 40% of the wealth in America. Jews run Wall Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and most of the think tanks. It’s because Jews control the media and government that the ‘gay’ agenda was shoved down our throats with such force.

    It’s the entire matrix of Jewish power that is so asymmetrical and undermines any truly democratic political practice in America. The idea that the problems of power can be fixed with a few legal ‘reforms’ is a joke. Besides, there are so many loopholes that can be used by rich Jews like Bloomberg, Soros, Google guys, etc.

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