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

posted by Base on June 8, 2006 - 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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Addressing the moral climate of the country must also be one of the core issues- as well as national security, education and the environment.

The broader you make it the more people you lose. Keep it to political reform; that will resolve all other issues in the best interest of the public.

Jack Lohman
www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org

No. The more narrow your platform the fewer people it will attract. I don't think many Americans are single issue voters- certainly not enough to elect a president.

If the issues are limited to election reform, ethics reform, and health care reform, you'll get most of them. That's what Perot did.

Add Iraq, gay marriage, and the multitude of divisive topics and you reduce the support significantly.

Jack Lohman
www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org

Huh? Perot's 19% did not a majority make. If a majority of the electorate had been interested in Perot’s issues, a majority of the electorate would have voted for him.

BTW: Do you have any polling data showing that the issues you list will be the top issues in 2008? As long as the war in Iraq continues, common sense dictates that it will be the #1 political issue.

Also, even if a majority of the electorate wants health care, campaign finance or ethics reform (something I doubt), what guarantee do you have that a majority will get behind any particular reform plan- or are these the types of details you plan to leave out of the Unity08 platform?

Hopefully UNITY08 is interested in Presenting a package of interelated ideas constituting a single circumspect view acknowledging every facet and that every issue and how everything is encumbered and interelated and dependent on each other for the whole to be understood for a well-designed society to be.

Money is only part of the problem, ballot access is part too. i don't care how much money a candidate has, just where they get it and how. Public funded finance is a possible way to help but ballot access is another important issue that needs to be addressed. The two major parties have had an unfair advantage for too long and something needs to be done to level the plying field. Many possible candidates that would serve us well have been denied the chance to ever be elected by exclusion. I will admit that some minimum standard be set but if it is set for the independent then it should be set for all.

I'll amen that, good point, I think flaia has addressed this too.

An Independent

As long as Republicans and Democrats are the only ones that have an inalienable right to the ballot it will be Republicans and Democrats that will make the laws whereby public money is distributed to candidates for office. What are the odds that the Republicans and Democrats will distribute this public campaign money to very many 3rd party or non-party candidates?

I agree that campaign finance reform does not resonate with the voters, but disagree over its importance in correcting the system. The voters are in my view equally apathetic (50% don't vote) and cynical - you'll never stop the money and/or the politicians will never take action to stop the money. Neither addresses the reality that the money is indeed destructive.

You are absolutely correct that ballot access is a key issue, and that it is one which maintains the R&D duopoly. This one is actually probably the most difficult to overcome, as it is enacted in a hodge-podge state-by-state manner and the electorate is even more apathetic about independent or minor party candidates.

Finally, the issue of gerrymandering and incumbent protection come into play - again a complex and arcane issue that will never make a dent standing alone. Yet in a package with the other two, I suggest that this would be, could be and frankly should be the unifying message of Unity 08. To wit:

1) Americans are tired of divisive polarizing partisan politics
2) The Republicans and Democrats control our lives by protecting and perpetuating the current political/electoral system - which consists of vast amounts of campaign funds derived mostly from wealthy individuals and special interests, limiting competition by denying ballot access to independent and minor party challengers, and protecting incumbent office holders and/or partisan interests by artificially manipulating district boundaries.
3) Unity 08 is committed to reforming the political process and restoring control of America to its citizens by eliminating private funding of political campaigns, opening up the ballot to all qualified candidates on an equal basis, and by automating the redistricting process at the federal level to ensure as level a playing field as possible in every race.

Comments?

Mark Greene
Texas Democrat in the Middle

Add achieving energy indpendence, and addressing the looming entitlement disaster and in my mind you've got the American Agenda. Moderator I hope you are listening.

An Independent

<<1) Americans are tired of divisive polarizing partisan politics>>

Then why do Americans continue to elect polarizing Democrats and Republicans to office? Why has there been no groundswell for 3rd party and non-party candidates?

<<2) The Republicans and Democrats control our lives by protecting and perpetuating the current political/electoral system - which consists of vast amounts of campaign funds derived mostly from wealthy individuals and special interests, limiting competition by denying ballot access to independent and minor party challengers, and protecting incumbent office holders and/or partisan interests by artificially manipulating district boundaries.<<

Did the Democrats and Republicans control the electoral process to their benefit any less 20 or 30 years ago when it didn’t cost nearly as much to wage a political campaign? Other than the over-reaction to Watergate, I don’t recall campaign financing being a major political issue until McCain in 2000.

<<3) Unity 08 is committed to reforming the political process and restoring control of America to its citizens by eliminating private funding of political campaigns, opening up the ballot to all qualified candidates on an equal basis, and by automating the redistricting process at the federal level to ensure as level a playing field as possible in every race.>>

And this narrow platform will not attract a majority.

When American troops are being killed on a daily basis in Iraq a majority of American voters don’t care about campaign financing.

When Wal-Mart is the nation’s #1 civilian employer and many Wal-Mart employees are elligible for welfare, a majority of American voters don’t care about campaign financing.

When public schools cannot teach kids to read and write, a majority of American voters don’t care about campaign finacing.

When gas costs a hundred dollars a week a majority of American voters don’t care about campaign financing.

I submit he answered your question. It is the democratic and republican's monopoly of the political process, gerrymandering, controlling ballot access. Those two alone answer your question. The other part of the equation is apathy. The two parties can count on a strong dose of that too. And what do you call unity 08? It's a third party if I ever saw one, the founders won't call it such, but its a party alright.

An Independent

No it does not. Ballot access is restricted for 3rd party and non-party candidates, but it is not totally denied.

So why hasn't a viable 3rd party arisen? Ross Perot was on the ballot in all 50 states in 1992 and 1996 as an independent presidential candidate and his Reform Party was on the ballot in 49 states as recently as 2000.

Perot ran on what was essentially a Unity08 platform, but he couldn't get any more than 19% of the popular vote and his supporters (Unity08 supporters?) could not sustain their interest well enough to prevent his Reform Party from being taken over by Pat Buchanan. So Unity08 has already had its opportunity to promote its goals, but people with Unity08 goals and only Unity08 goals don’t make up much of the overall U.S. electorate.

Do you see anything good about U08?

An Independent

Define good.

If it ends up being a front for the left, it will be bad.

If it ends up being an ego trip for its nominee or its founders, it will be bad.

If it ends up conducting a national convention that has a pre-set agenda that shuts out people who want to participate but for whom the pre-set agenda is not their #1 priority, then it will be bad.

If it ends up leading to public financing of campaigns or infringing on the rights of TV and radio station owners by forcing them to give air time to candidates they find reprehensible, then it will be bad.

In the mean time it may serve as a forum for people who think the system is broken and this is a good thing.

Back in 1992 and 1996 the Political Parties had some semblance of legitimacy compared to today. They actually got things done (Splitski Govt was there). And even with his paranoid prickly personality Perot still garnered 19% - not to shabby! With the decline in faith in the political parties now and with a decent candidate and issue choice Unity could be a real player. Lot's of ifs but not so improbable as you think there flaja! Worth our best shot if you ask me!

Does anyone know right off how much money was spent on Perot's 1992 campaign? If you wish to limit how much money someone can give to a campagin because money is bad for politics, how can any of you have any respect for Perot whom, I believe, used his own money?

And BTW: Is it true that Perot made his money by developing softare for the federal government that was used to manage the Medicare system and even though Perot was under contract to the federal government to develop the software, he copyrighted the software himself and then charged the government to use it? Can someone who can play the system this well really be a champion of the people?

What changed between 1996 and now? How could the parties be legitimate as late as 1996, but not be legitimate now?

The largest change to the system was throwing the internet, and the advent of 24hour cable news into the mix

I'm all for automating resdistricting (I'm originally from Iowa and it works well there), but isn't that a state by state determination?? I agree that Americans are yearning for someone to come along ad slap both parties on the sides of their heads and address the big mega issues instead of frittering days debating stuff like Terry Shiavo and such. What we need is to formulate a simple decent fair and implementable alternative or range of such alternatives that the electorate and a decent candidate can latch on to adopt as their own and maybe repurpose a bit to complete the deal. I do not think campaign finance reform is in the cards in the near future, but I do think having Splitski Branch Government and a decent thord Party alternative does help at least in the short and Medium term. How well we do our job (selecting the right issues) will determine if it will be a long-term change though.

You are a fool. For people like me who was born 10 weeks premature, weighing less than 4 pounds in 1968 and who has been told by left-wing/libertarian fruitcakes that I didn’t deserve to live because I was not viable outside of an incubator for the first 2 months of my life, issues like Terry Shiavo are very important because the sanctity of life is very important.

Well, again, look to Pennsylvania to lead the pack in sleezy campaign financing. We have recently been told that legislative staffers who may have "taken time off work" to do campaigning later got bonuses. Isn't that convenient, work on the camnpaign for free then get a bonus later from your re-elected boss.

The story is breaking this week, for recent info see: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07032/758486-85.stm and http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_491250.html

How much of this sort of thing happens elsewhere? Lots I bet. This stuff needs to be seen for what it is, illegal embezzelment and election tampering.

If we educate the public about the high costs of our corrupt political system, the fact that a $10 per taxpayer per year investment will return hundreds of times the investment in reduced taxes and government giveaways; how our duopoly has locked out credible third-party candidates with its winner-take-all rules and the need for Instant Runoff Voting; and the dire need for ethics reform, folks, we will WIN!

If we just more of the same, let's not waste our breath. Rather than pulling out or stayng the course in Iraq, we should lobby the public for a more responsible way of making these decisions. Reject divisive issues like legislating for or against gay marriage, stem cells and abortion. These are issues for the churches and individuals to sort out themselves; not for the government to legislate.

The more divisive issues you include, the smaller will be your list of supporters.

Let's keep it to what is hurting America the most: our corrupt political system. Get the money out of politics and we'll see most of the other issues fix themselves.

Jack Lohman
http://www.MoneyedPoliticians.com

Jack, you and I should team up and take our case to THE FOUNDERS .. click on my Blog www.popopete.com .. scroll though a few postings and you'll see we want the same things - and I've put forth legal and practical ways to achieve same ..

First, we have to make sure UNITY08 is going to be there for us - see my Feb 2 Posting, up to now NO RESPONSE FROM ANYONE..

You can respond here or Email me at [email protected]

popo

I've written to the founders too, popo, and in time they usually get around to answering concerns of the group. I do fear they are NOT doing it frequently enough and a few supporters are leaving us.

I also fear that they want to put this thing together "virtually," just on the web. That holds serious dangers as any one political persuasion can rally enough supporters to tweak the outcome in a way that we'll not be successful. Like, say, suppose a no-win candidate makes it through our selection process?

The founders know what they have to do to put forth an agenda that will work. They must do that from all of the postings and present it to us. Listen to the arguments and make a decision, but by no means should they hold an online election that can be hijacked.

Jack Lohman
www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org

When the organization's Law Firm doesn't answer their phones - and all efforts to secure direct responses from UNITY08 fail (particularly after the very unproffesional handling of the situation with James Cook) ... CONFIDENCE IN THE ORGANIZATION AND ITS DESIRE/ABILITY TO PERFORM suffers considerably !!

If they are for real - and If they adopt The Plan B I've submitted, THE LEVERAGE NEEDED TO ATTRACT THE RIGHT CANDIDATES & BROAD PUBLIC FINANCIAL SUPPORT WILL BE ESTABLISHED IN A WAY OUR WORK CANNOT BE HIJACKED ..

I'll hang in there a few more days but if I don't get some good answers soon, I'm going to look around for better alternatives.

popo

I dont agree that Unity treated Jim poorly. I think Jim showed poor judgement by putting the address of a female intern on this site such that it comes straight up on google. I think Unity had the responsibility to remove the address. I'd have removed the name too.

Frankly, I think Jim was treating us with a lack of respect. Sure he has his questions and they are valid, but to drown out the rest of us, much like flaja was doing, is not respectful of the membership. The demanding nature of folks gets to me maybe too much. People only have so much time, and to make lots of demands turns them off. This is a forum for persuasion, not browbeating.

One man's humble opinion there for what its worth ...

I was more concerned about the internal behavior of UNITY08 staff and the way they handled themselves ..

What bothers me is I had legal questions that Tom didn't answer during the Q&A Session, I spent two business days trying to call the Offices of Steptoe & Johnson in DC, neither Office (Con Ave & 19th St) answered their phones.

Check my posting on www.popopete.com re UNITY08 .. and you will understand where I'm coming from ..

I want to see this work - and however they raise the money is OK with me as long as they raise it legally and openly.

I'm a majority man with qualification - It Needs To Be The Taxpaying Majority !!

Wish us luck ..

popo

Maybe we should start contacting Sam Waterson and using the General info website to send messages to them!

As population is at the heart of all our environmental problems, money is at the heart of all political issues. The single most important things that the political system requires is that all national campaigns be only publicly funded. This could be achieved by diverting some of our tax dollars to a pool of money that would pay the campaign bills for acceptable candidates. I see the following positives from this process.
• Candidates can run for office without having to go through the horrendous process of raising money. Many more qualified candidates would be willing to run for office if they did not have to raise huge sums of money and go begging to do that.
• Every individual would have an equal voice in government because the system would limit the amount of their contribution from perhaps $1 to $5. Contributions would go the overall pool not to one candidate. If individuals wanted to support a candidate they would have to do so in some non monetary manner.
• Campaigns could only run so long because there would not be an endless supply of money to finance them.
• Campaigns would be on an equal footing. The outcome of the campaign would not be a function of who raised the most money.
• Candidates would be elected more on their merits. Existing candidates would not start with a significant money advantage.
• The outrageous sums of money being spent on campaigns would stop. Our schools and infrastructure are more in need of those monies.
• Elected officials would not be beholding to every special interest group in town. The ability of lobbyist to dramatically influence legislation would be curtailed.
• Campaign funds raised would not slip into the pockets of the
campaigners.
Problems that might arise from this system are;
• How are third party candidates selected? The system should allow only three candidates for any post. I believe we must support the two party system to a degree.
• What are the legal challenges to the system? As I am not a lawyer, I have no idea what laws may stand in the way of this approach.
• I have concerns about the influence of the media. With other types of communications limited, might the media have an undue influence?
If this type of reform were instituted, there would be little need for all the other reform measures pointed at specific issues.
Ed Hunter

Jack:
Right on! The only money that should be made available to anyone who is running, should come from the Public Election Fund. The playing field should be level for everyone. All lobby money and special interest money shoud be used for special projects such as securing our borders, feeding the homeless, etc/

Nothing wrong with public funding, as long as the candidates make FULL disclosure.

I certainly want to know who moveon.org is funding.

http://journals.aol.com/kweinschen/Veritas/

This movement is no where near seeking victory. We must make a dent in two party politics by bringing them too our center. This fight started a year ago and continues. The 2008 Election is nothing more than a time for reflection on the effect we have had on either candidate of the two parties. We can be small and shoot for the stars with no rocket or be huge and give a rebel yell for drastic hitech reforms and maybe, just maybe put forth a realistic candidate for 2012... I say give 'em hell cuz we can't win this round anyway! - Earn Snyder
Modern Progressive Independent
IM: [email protected]
For more policies visit www.appyp.com/fix_main.html

What do mean by "rookie hell"????????????

Yiou really are a trope 'master', Earn

http://journals.aol.com/kweinschen/Veritas/

Retired but Active

Sorry Kris but you are not going to get anywhere by responding to Vern. He is so obviously a true nut job that most people on these forums simply ignore him. I suggest you do the same.

Why not establish a nation wide set of campaign regulations that stipulates that only those individuals that are registered to vote and are legally able to vote for specific candidates be allowed to contribute to those candidates or their campaigns.

Controls would be relatively simple; multiply the number of registered voters in the candidates district by the maximum amount each voter is allowed to contribute, if the amount shown in the candidates (meaning all of those running for the office) exceeds this number the audit begins. Also require the campaigns to provide reciepts for each contribution as another check point.

The only matching funds that would be available for any kind of campaigning would then come from a public fund provided by the taxpayers. PAC's and special interest groups would be restrict to issues only, any support of specific candidates would result in immediate termination of all activities by that PAC or group until a public review by public panel of voters overseen by a judicial person was completed. If the PAC or special interest group was found to be in violation they could be fined out of existence and the money placed in the public matching fund account.

This might get the candidates to actively solicit citizens to get out and register to vote and maight even get some complacent citizens back in the game once they realize they can make a difference.

This would also stop people with agendas from other districts or states or countries from affecting local and state elections where they have no legal right to cast a ballot.

The problem is how easily a candidate can be "bought" if there are no limits on how much an individual can contribute.

George Soros pumped millions of dollars into the Kerry campaign alone.

Do you want Bill Gates or Michael Jackson deciding who'll president?

http://journals.aol.com/kweinschen/Veritas/

Contributing to rival candidates (in order to ingratiate yourself with whoever wins) should be a criminal act -- equivalent to bribery!
Gus

Who do you think finances elections now?
Who pays for those gross political advertisements. You think there is some corporation putting up the cash -- but where do they get the money? If you answer "by increasing their prices" go to the head of the class.
When Exxon contributes $100,000 to a candidate's campaign the money comes from profits. So the person who uses gasoline is ultimately paying.
Not only that, the contributor gains favors that enables him to gouge the public even more. So you and I are paying for all those stupid ads that ruin our television watching. It would cost us a lot less if we bit the bullet and said that we would sign the checks ourselves through increased taxes, instead of paying through higher prices.

I'm sure there will be arguments about money being speech and all, but I think we should discuss what the British do: they limit how much you can spend, not how much you can raise. This allows the humblest of candidates to be on a level playing field with money-bag candidates.

It seems the only real losers in all this would be the chortling media mogles that love to play man-in-the-middle and keep the pot as stirred as possible. However, in recent years they have been pretty much recognized as yet another pipe organ in 'The Mighty Wurlitzer' and will continue to fade in relevance.

Comments anyone?

Yes, see this option. It is working in six states already.

www.wicleanelections.org

Jack Lohman
www.MoneyedPoliticians.com

"Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." -- Robert Frost

We pay taxes, federal, state and local, to build good roads. We like good roads, smooth, without potholes, with sidewalks where appropriate. They take us to school and business, to shopping and to our neighbors. We know all the side effects of too many roads, and too few roads, but nobody wants bad roads.

Aren't good, fair elections as important to us as good roads? If so, isn't it past time we considered paying for them the same way we pay for roads?

Under the current system, with the exception of parts of a Presidential campaign, a candidate and campaign has to raise every dollar of campaign funds him or herself. Months will be spent not meeting a single voter, knocking on a single door, discussing a single issue, giving a single speech. Instead, they are meeting with friends, business associates, local businesses, unions, PACs and special interest groups begging for money.

We have created a system where candidates for election are more beholden to the contributors than to the voters. The results are neither good elections nor good government.

Not good elections, because candidates are forced to spend time they should be spending communicating with voters about their issues and concerns instead fundraising.

Not good government, because once elected, the cycle starts all over again, and instead of concentrating on how best to govern, how to provide education, transportation, encourage job creation and make this the kind of place in which we all want to live, the successful legislator is right back on the phone raising money for the next campaign.

Surveys have shown most elected officials don't like the current system, the businesses, unions and individuals asked to donate don't like the current system. Yet it persists.

We can do better.

It's time to diverge and take the road less traveled by. It's time to institute public campaign financing, stop the begging, and make the voters once again the most important people for someone running for public office.

A candidate for office, upon meeting a qualification standard by gathering signatures on petitions or gaining the nomination of his or her party, would receive campaign funds based on the population of his district, state or in the case of the Presidency the nation. This amount should initially be set at a percentage of the average cost of campaigns for that office (since the cost of fundraising is eliminated) and indexed for inflation.

There are other changes that could be made to the system that would be very helpful by eliminating some of the costs of campaigning. A limited "franking" privilege for candidates for office, providing low or no cost mailing for a fixed number of pieces of campaign literature, could tremendously lower the cost of most local campaigns, which depend on direct mail. Mandated air time on television, radio and cable as appropriate could be made a requirement for license renewal by the FCC, or contract renewal for local cable companies.

There is a natural suspicion among Americans toward any proposal that might increase the taxes we pay. We demand value for the money we provide for governance. This is right and proper and a requirement for the maintenance of good government.

So some may say, "Why pay new taxes for something that people seem willing to pay for themselves?" The answer is simple, "Because if we want the people's representatives to truly represent all the people, then all the people should provide the means for their selection."

It is past time that we once again make the voters the most important people in the lives of our representatives. Government "of the people, by the people and for the people" demands nothing less.

Excellent piece, and I hope you turn it into an Op-Ed. If so, please let me know at jlohman (at) execpc.com

Jack Lohman
www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org

Very well said RKolker - will be looking to you for more well constructed wisdom...

Mark Greene
Texas Democrat in the Middle

No. The only thing that makes campaigns tolerable is that they don't cost me any money.

Oh, you dreamer. The taxpayers are paying for every political campaign out there, even for candidates they do not support. In my state it is costing us about $1300 per taxpayer per year to fund the government giveaways to the special interests that fund the elections. You are paying for the campaigns, just through the back door and at hundreds of times more than if you simply paid up front.

To top it off, when the corporations give their money to the politicians they add their costs to their product price and we reimburse them at the cash register!

Follow the money. For $5 per taxpayer per year we could have full public funding of campaigns.

Yeah, you're paying now, but because it is not directly you think you're getting a free lunch. Dream on.

Jack Lohman
www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org

You Said it!

It's unethical for a corporation to give money without a reasonable expectation for a return on the investment. As far as special interests go, some are more special than others. Some special interests bring money to the table, others bring votes.

We need to get the voters in the game. Only allow registered voters to contribute. Corporations and Organizations have no standing in an election because they can not vote. Also, stop candidates from crossing district lines to collect contributions.

Of course a determined political slicker can always thwart any attempt take money out of the system. The Attorney General will work for you if you win, and if you loose nobody will care.

Way busy, can't hang around. Just wanted to check in and make sure you're still carrying the torch - you are. Round figures $5/voter would make a kitty of about 1/2 billion, which should more than cover the presidential - probably need that again to cover the Senate and House races currently competitive, once more if we ever get redistricting reform in which will double or triple the number of competitive races. All these increases are good for the country and money exceptionally well spent. A real bargain at ten times the price...

Keep up the good work!
Mark Greene
Texas Democrat in the Middle

In the 2004 presidential election, the two major parties spent $280M (Republican) and $310M (Democrats) and that was just for the presidential campaign. Senate campaigns start at $10M and House seats are going for over $2M every 2 years.

Competitive races are not the issue that public funding can solve. The issue is that money and bureacracies are heavily tilted toward the major parties because, shock of shocks, the major parties write the rules. Races won't be competitive until the system is changed and the system won't change while those who are enriched by the system remain in power; remain the beneficiaries of the present system.

So, simply mandating a $5 charge would

1) raise not nearly enough money

and...

2) flies in the face of the self interest of those in power who would be required to pass this law.

It is pretty to think this sort of change can simply come into being because it sounds right or is obvious on some level. However, real change doesn't happen because it's obvious. It happens as a result of threat or opportunity.

Threat in this case is made explicit should Unity08 succeed. The present power structure will feel threatened and should respond accordingly either by making it harder for an independent candidate to win again, which is a likely response; or by effecting changes implicitly demanded by the populace and circumstances of the election.

The opportunity for change is now; with Unity08 as a focal point for a realistic platform of the pragmatic and the possible; and not the wishful or the inane.

The opportunity to place a change agent in the Whitehouse is real and should not be derailed by calls for the impossible in policy when the merely possible and pragmatic in policy would be sufficient progress.

John E. Kaczmarowski
[email protected]

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