Should campaigns be publicly funded? star indicating that this topic is a Unity08 pick

posted by Base on June 8, 2024 - 9:21am

With campaigns costing millions of dollars, it's not surprising that candidates are beholden to the special interests and corporate PACs that finance their campaigns. Do you think campaigns should be publicly funded, and, if so, how would the funds be allocated?

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Equal treatment will be hard to achieve with or without Campaign Finance reform. Look! These Lobbyist Groups are not dumb and are powerful and have many means at their disposal above and beyond money to get their "unequal" treatment. I say full and transparent public access and exposure to all the "giving and getting" is the best we can hope for to get the maximum accountability.

Does a millionaire get to vote more than once? If a candidate has ideas that resonate with the electorate, why can he not get $100 from 100 separate individual voters instead of $10,000 from a single voter?

Can you see past your ideological opposition to public funding of elections long enough to realize that this country's problems today are mostly the result of our privatized electoral system, with the special interests in every walk of business controlling virtually every political decision made by our trusted government representatives? If your answer is yes and you still support private interests owning our politicians, this is the wrong website for you.

Jack Lohman

People here seem to think that money is the root of all that is evil in American politics.

But consider John McCain in 2024 and Howard Dean in 2024.

McCain made campaign financing the prevailing issue in his 2024 bid for the GOP nomination. He won 60% of the vote in the New Hampshire Primary (a primary in which anyone could vote for candidates in either party). But, yet McCain’s issue did not resonate with the electorate and he lost the nomination. The American electorate does not care about campaign finance reform.

Howard Dean was the frontrunner for the Democrat nomination in 2024 in terms of the money he had raised before Iowa, but Dean’s money was not enough to secure a win in Iowa or compensate for his self-destruction following his Iowa loss.

Also consider that Steve Forbes had the ability to self-finance both his 1996 and 2024 campaigns, but his money did not win him the nomination.

So the candidates with the most money to spend do not always win.

I don’t see campaign finance as a crucial issue. I worry much more about ballot access for non-Republican/Democrat candidates, the partisan bickering among office holders that prevents the government from addressing important issues (education, Social Security, national security, environmental conservation and morality) in a meaningful way and the political-industrial complex whereby government (at every level) pays more attention to corporations and special interest lobbies than they do individual voters.

I totaly agree Flaja! As much as I am for Campaign Finance Reform, realistically the funny money is NOT going to go away no matter how wellthe laws are written. There are just to many smart lawyers down there on K Steet'sGucci Gulch to make such a "fix" temporary at best. Such reform may make us feel better about ourselves but will not substantively address the realcore issues plaguing our nation. Ithinkthe better option is full disclosure, transparency astowhere this "funny"money is coming from and a real tough Ethics IG Head in Congress and full access tothe media by all the candidates (that is what the money goes for). That is the best I feel we can hope for.

How do you think we are ever going to get politicans from putting the special interests, corporations you refer to ahead of the common good if we don't take money out of the equation? You contradict yourself. And John if there was a law on the books which barred anyone from contriubuting over $200 to a campaign and no PAC contribution or corporate contribution don't you think that would have at least some impact upon these congressmen or women? And if they banned all lobbyists gifts? They are trying to do that now as we write in the house and senate. Sure no system is fool proof there would be congresspersons (is that a word?) and lobbyists who would cheat. But if the penalty were severe it would make them think twice before doing it.

An Independent

The Constitutionality would be in question highly on such laws and if upheld by some miracle these laws would most likely have so many holes in the legislation and codiciles that the Gucci Gulchers would drive a Mack Truck thru it. It would be a palliative at best that might not even solve the problem you are trying to solve! If constitutional it might stave them offf or a while but they would find other ways to influence besides money. The PACs/Lobbyist/Gucci Gulchers are not going away no matter how you slice it. They will find ways to access and influence no matter what. Whatwe need is iron clad full disclosure, iron clad IG and Ethics, and accountability and full media access for all candidates - all that is definitely Constitutional. And we can get on to the REAL mega-issues.

Equal ballot access for all candidates and parties in all races.

Proportional representation for Congress and all legislative bodies.

Expand the size of Congress and other legislative bodies so political power will not be vested in just a few office holders. As it stands now, for all practical purpose, any legislation can be stopped by the majority leaders in either Houses of Congress. The same pretty much goes for committee chairmen.

If we had multiple parties and proportional representation, then there may not be majority leaders and they wouldn't have as much power as they now do if they did exist.

flaia: by creating more congressmen the money would just be spread out further. I do not care if you had 20,000 congressmen, special interest would scratch everyone of those 20,000 backs. I have to repeat the question Jack asked you which I don't think you answered, if you did, my apologies. What is it about special interest money do you not understand?

An Independent


Not necessarily. The more Congressmen we have (especially with multiple political parties) the less leadership power any single Congressman could accumulate. You would reach a point where it would be too expensive for special interests to try to influence government. You imply that special interests have an infinite amount of money to use for lobbying. I don’t think this is the case.

BTW: Can anyone document that special interest money is as troublesome in countries like Britain as you all seem to think it is here? Does a country like Britain have laws to limit financial contributions to candidates or guarantee candidates access to the media?

First, McCain was not beat down by the American electorate in 2024, he was defeated by the right wing wackos in South Carolina. Secondly, Arizona and Maine (and most recently Connecticut) have removed special interest money from the system by providing full public funding of campaigns. And it works beautifully. If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. What is it about special interest money do you not understand?

Jack Lohman

And do you think it has reduced the influence of the special interests in those states?? It may contain it for awhile, but they have and will find other ways to influence. Do those states have full free media access for candidadtes? I still question whether it will solve anything med=ium-long term and would be constitutional for National/Presidential election. That is a whole different animal!

I object to guaranteed media access for candidates for the same reasons I object to giving public money to candidates. A TV station or a newspaper or a radio station is usually operated as a for-profit venture. They exist as private property. Now, what right does a candidate for public office have to someone’s private property? What right does a candidate have to make a private business owner facilitate the candidate's speech when the business owner objects to the content of the speech?

The media should provide a certain amount of free advertising time because they were given -- free of charge -- the airwasves that are owned by the taxpayers. Remember the 1996 Telecommunications act. $7 billion worth of airwaves given to the radio and TV stations, and their obligation to provide public services BEGIN WITH providing air time. Without that candidates have to take campaign cash to pay for ads, and then the public repays the contributors at the rate of 100-to-1.

Jack Lohman

If the government owns the airwaves, then why doesn't the government get to dictate the content of each and every radio and TV program and broadcast? How can there ever be any question that the government can censor the violence and sex that broadcasters routinely subject us to? How and why do we not get to watch and hear what the government wants and only what the government wants?
And even if the government legitimately owns the airwaves (something I would dispute for 1st Amendment reasons), it does not own the land and buildings that make up the broadcast facilities.

Government does not choose to dictate the content that is within reasonable bounds. I think of free airwave access in the same way as Public Service Announcements where a designated reasonable segment of time would be reserved for public discourse around election time to inform the citizenry with a balance of views.

Define reasonable. If you have 20 (or 30, 40, 50…) candidates seeking the same office, and a broadcaster has to legally give airtime to covering the campaign, then would it be fair to exclude any of the 20 candidates from whatever airtime is devoted to covering the campaign?

What if a Nazi or a Klansman is running for office? Would he be entitled to free airtime? What about someone like the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, or Pat Robertson, or Jimmy Swaggert?

I'd synthesize their PSA standards with the legitimate candidates (above 10% maybe) in the polls or whatever they think is legit for the community. A Klans men would probably not get to high but who knows what David Dukes lurk out there. Publicize it, get community buy in before the races heat up, and set it for the communtiy and viewing/listening public.

First of all, potential candidates would have to gain a certain percentage of the registered (in the district they were running in)voters to sign an enabling petition to gain ballot access. If these people you refer to were to gain the required number of signatures of the registered voters, then they would have to be included in the Public TV debates, forums etc. There would be a runoff election to determine who made it to the final election (these would be elgible to receive public funds. These issues would be determined by the appropriate laws passed by Congress. As far as England goes, I really don't care what kind of elections they have I don't live there.

An Independent

If we live in a free society, why should someone have to submit petitions in order to be considered as a candidate for public office? The fact that the Democrats and Republicans have enacted laws that establish a petition requirement for candidates who are not a Democrat or a Republican does not make the petition requirement morally right.

I submit your ideas about government are more in tune with the ancient city state of Athens rather than 21st century America. If true public financing were to be come law, enabling laws would have to passed along with it outlining a new set of operating rules. I would expect democratic and republican candidates to go through the same process as everyone else or I would not support it. Let the good ole boy times roll.

An Independent

You really expect the Democrats and Republicans to open up ballot access to challengers as long as the Democrats and Republicans control the law-making process?

And as long as Democrats and Republicans control the law-making process, they will certainly see to it that they are not effectively challenged by other candidates.

As Jimmy Carter said back when "Life is not fair". They are elected and as long as the petition laws are not way out of wack and not determined unconstitutional by the Supremes,then I'm OK with it and we should get on with getting on. As Coach John Madden said "Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon!"

In Florida you cannot qualify for the general election ballot without submitting petitions from 1% of the registered voters in the district in which the election is to be held and these signatures must be gathered in a very short period of time. For a statewide office this is something like 100,000 signatures. And considering you can have gerrymandered districts for the U.S. House that stretch a hundred or more miles from end-to-end, gathering enough signatures places a un-due burden on a candidate.

And should certain candidates be exempt from a petition requirement simply because they have a big D or big R after their name?

If it has been upheld by the courts then you have no option but do go with what there is until it is overturned or changed insomeway. And being from Iowa originally, I feel the way they redistricting there (by computer) should be the model. But redistricting/ballot qualification is up to the States if it passes constitutional and court muster.

Again I point to that marvelous amendment, the 14th. Why doesn't the ACLU address this issue. Just because certain individuals have a D or R in front of their name should not matter, they should have to play by the same rules as others. And we call ourselves a democracy.

An Independent

What right do you have to determine who is and is not a legitimate candidate?

I would hate to see the day that the airwaves became free game. Would that mean that any company could then disperse chemicals into this free air? Look, fair is fair, and I object to the massive consolodation that is taking place in the media. Taken to its logical conclusion, would you relish the day that General Electric owned 100% of the TV, Radio and Internet channels?

Freedom of speech can only go so far, and unfortunately money equals speech. But some of us have none and others have megaphones, so controls are necessary.

Jack Lohman

You are being ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous. Dispersing chemicals through the air is not the same thing as sending electromagnetic broadcast signals. Anyone with a junior high school education should know this.

Anybody with half a brain will look at where the dominoes are going to fall if they do one thing versus another. But qualifying that I recognize that right wingers don't have half a brain.

The concept is the same. Who owns the airwaves? The public! If private industry owned them they should (if I were a right wing wacko) be able to do anything they want to with them. Debate that if you will, but don't get locked on stupid.

Jack Lohman

Why not consider air and airwaves the same way we have traditionally considered naturally occurring bodies of water , i.e., whoever is in closest proximity has more of a right to access the resource?

If you are a farmer and you dig a well on your property, what right do your neighbors have to it?

And as well, it has opened the seats to citizens not willing to sell their souls for a legislative seat.

Jack Lohman

Great! If we can incorporate the Lessons Learned that are transferrable tothe Federal level and consitutional, then I am all for it. Bring it on! I totally agree with you on the potentially onerous effects of the many of the special interest lobbyist groups (lot of who representing the interests of you, me and all of us by the way in someway - see AARP, American Assn..., National Assn of ...., etc!). Government is way to responsive to their influences for sure as the ever expanding Tax Code indicates. But be under no illusons thatcampaign finance reform is a panacea for our mega-issues. It would not hurt for sure if CFR is as you say truly implementable, but the mega-issues of Entitlements and Grand Strategy will remain to be addressed.

I don't remember McCain taking his winning issue to the White House via an independent, 3rd party or write-in vote campaign.

Every 4 years we hear about NH being a microcosm of the nation as a whole and you cannot win the White House if you cannot win the "independents" in NH. Well, McCain did win the independents in NH and he couldn't even sustain a primary campaign.

If a majority of American voters cared about campaign finance reform, why did they not join the Republican Party so they could nominate McCain by out voting the wackos, as you belligerently called Republican primary voters, in SC and every other state in the Union?

McCain didn't win in SC because he wasn't perceived as the candidate that best represented the wishes and needs of the citizens. I for one thought he had some good ideas but I did not vote for him because I felt that overall he wasn't the best choice. A candidate to me must represent a broad range of ideas. A candidate that runs on one theme or couple leaves too much out that is important. I think that he is a good man and depending who he runs against this time will determine if I vote for him. By the way, while SC gave him the thumbs down, We did not defeat him alone. Our state has only a small vote compared to other states and to the total.

Oh, as an after thought, maybe you can give us your definition of right wing wacko, so we can better understand what you mean. That way I can see what I am supposed to represent.

A one or two issue campaign sounds exactly like what Unity08 is trying to run.

I think it is right for Unity08 to have a narrow focus but There are numerous issues out there that are important and I have been waiting to see what candidates we will have and what they have to offer. A one or two issue platform for us is important but I will not vote for someone who does not represent my views on other issues as well. If we have numerous choices that fit our stance, I will pick the one that has the most overall compatibility to my beliefs. If no one is acceptable, even if they sing our song then I will not vote for the Unity08 candidates

Wouldn't it be best to determine a platform and then find a candidate that can uphold it rather than let a candidate determine the platform just because he can campaign well? Consider the Reform Party. Perot's 1992 and 1996 campaigns were personality driven. Without Perot the Reform Party has regressed because Perot was the Reform Party and he’s lost interest.

I thought that is what we are doing and I was under the impression that it was a limited platform with some key issues. Our candidates would embrace them but let them tell us their stances on other topics. When we vote, we will pick the ones who reflect the majority of the Unity08's members beliefs.

If the members of Unity08 cannot agree on a very broad range of platform planks, just how dedicated will a majority be to the Unity08 movement?

What happens if letting the candidate dictate most of the platform planks makes it impossible to muster a solid majority for the entire platform? What happens if the chosen candidate has a particular view on a particular issue that makes it impossible for people who have dedicated their time to Unity08 to support him? If Unity08 nominates a pro-abortion candidate, I could not support the Unity08 ticket no matter much I agree with the rest of the Unity08 platform or how much time and effort I have contributed towards making that platform.

There is no perfect candidate, that is why I think that a narrow platform from us plus the candidates own views is important. The selection by the members will reflect the overall views of the majority. Various views are necessary for this to happen. There is a real chance that I will not support the candidate chosen but that is the price to pay. You mentioned abortion and there are many other issues that will determine ones vote such as gun control, immigration, welfare etc. A large segment of the people who post here seem to have agendas that troubles me although I do support some of their ideas. It is hard sometimes to bite my tongue and lash out but I respect their right to their opinions. I intend to stick around and keep putting my two cents worth in until the time comes to vote. I arrived here with nothing and if I leave here with nothing then, At least I have learned a few things along the way so the time will not be wasted.

I hope we do NOT get a candidate who strives to be all things to all people. But we should provide some sort of an overarching flexible framework on some key issues that a candidate of character and true political courage can latch onto and build on in a way that can lead the nation to solve the mega issues impinging ominously on our nations' future! I am ready to have a candidate above all that will have the gumption to tick me/us off if needed, tell us the hard truths, and stand up to their convictions!

Although I don't completely understand all of your post I think I get the main point. I'm not looking for a"candidate who strives to be all things to all people" but one who will accept for the most part legislation that represents the greater majority of the congress and tend to reject legislation that has a bare majority especially if it is especially partisan. Sometimes this will interfere with the candidates own beliefs but that is one sign of a true leader.

Wow! Have been away for a bit on business - great discussion! I think you have touched on exactly the matter that will determine what, if anything, Unity 08 will become. What is our mission? How broad or narrow is our "platform?" How committed are our "members?"

Smhiott, I think, reflected the reality of most of the folks here and in the electorate overall when he mentioned abortion, immigration, gun control, etc. Every voter comes to the voting booth with his or her own set of issues and priorities, and certainly no candidate of any party can satisfy them all. Only a fool would try, and we've seen over the last six years what putting a fool in the role generates...

I believe that if Unity 08 is going to amount to anything it will need to have a relatively narrow focus on which an overwhelming number of voters can agree. Generally we've sort of homed in on political reform, fiscal responsibility, energy independence, limited but effective government, I'm not certain what else. Whatever the set of issues winds up - it must steer clear of hot button divisive unsolvables - abortion being key among these. I think it was Flaja who said she(?) would never vote for a pro-abortion candidate. There are others similarly disposed and oppositely disposed. We can't be everything to everybody.

The key to success will be to have a sufficiently narrow focus that the voters will be inclined/educated to prioritize. Which issues are most important? Which have the strongest impact/effect on you and your family? Are you willing to base your election decision on the candidate who most reflects your views on these important issues?

One of the reasons that we elect such poor performers to our high offices is that the parties do not push the most important actionable issues or encourage the voter to focus on these. They in fact do the opposite, using wedge issues that often times are unsolvable and/or beyond the appropriate purview of government to inflame the passions and drive the intended results.

If Unity 08 is to make a difference, it must adopt from top to bottom a style and a message that differs radically from the status quo.

Mark Greene
Texas Democrat in the Middle

Didn’t Perot have a narrow focus in 1992? His two issues were worry about the federal budget and a dislike for career politicians. As a general rule he did not take a stand on social issues, and took a liberal stand when he did. And yet Perot only received 19% of the popular vote and 0 electoral votes.

If Unity08 runs a campaign that focuses on only 1 or 2 issue and either refuses to take a stand on social issue or takes a liberal stand on them, what makes you think Unity08 can do any better than Perot’s 19%?

I doubt very seriously that you could muster a majority of the electorate that agrees whole-heartedly on any given single issue, and most people will not be single issue voters.

His heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility influenced the democrats a great deal the deficits were greatly reduced, in fact I remembe us actually paying on the national debt. 19% of the popular vote is big for a third party or what u08 calls a movement. Three or four big core issues, I believe will stand a better chance of being assimilated by the public more efficiently than 10 or more.

An Independent

How did the Democrats reduce the deficits other than Clinton finally signing a balanced budget that had been approved by the GOP-controlled Congress following the 1994 elections? And considering we again have deficit spending, Perot's influence, whatever it was, has not lasted long.

I don't care who you give the credit to, the fact remains the deficits were reduced and the republicans you refer to also had to be influenced by Perot's run somewhat. They also operated on a pay as you go principle, something that was dumped by the republicans under Bush. Personally I don't credit either party that much, that is why I am an indpendent. Perot laid the first stone in the foundation for fiscal responsibility by his constanat bombardment of the airwaves with all of his charts and graphs. I don't know why neither party has built more on that foundation. The democrats say they are going back to the pay as you go approach. I doubt if they sustain it over a period of time.

An Independent

If Perot's 19% did such a great job, why do we still have deficits?

I agree, but addressing the unfunded liability of entitlement programs must be one of the core issues, in my opinion.

An Independent

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