Sun. May 26th, 2024

The Best Argument for Campaign Reform

At last, a fair fight...

An article in the Wall Street Journal, that liberal rag, ran an article and it really caught my eye.

At last, a fair fight...
At last, a fair fight…  Photo: ABC News

A new survey shows most Americans are willing to pay more taxes if that’s what it takes to get the nation back on track.

Democrats say it’s an indicator that voters want change.  Republicans say it’s just marketing.

The Wall Street Journal, Barack Obama and the Republican Party have made a terrific case for substantive campaign reform.

The Wall Street Journal / NBC News telephone poll showed that voters preferred Sen. Obama – who Republicans have been accusing of planning tax increases to pay for his programs and to “spread the wealth” – over Sen. McCain, the putative fiscal conservative in the presidential race.  The mid-October poll showed voters preferring Obama by 14 points.

Republicans claim that Sen. Obama’s winning voters over by outspending McCain and by shifting his positions to confuse the issues.  If he is, he’s simply doing what Republicans have done for decades.

Obama is a phenomenon.  Since declining public funding, he’s raised record amounts of money, record amounts of small contributions.  He’s rewritten the book on political money, even more than Bill Clinton and Howard Dean, while McCain is limping along on a shoestring of federal funding forced on him by a tired, discredited message.  Even a Democratic pollster quoted in the article suggests that Obama’s rise is based on a tactical versus philosophical factors.  Meaning, money talks.

That may be true.  I’m not ready to concede that Obama’s message of change – and the congruency of his image and record with that message – are irrelevant, or that people are too stupid to understand that McCain’s voting record on the economy, on entitlements and on the war have been in virtual lockstep with the current administration.

But in fact, money is an issue, and we may be about to see the ultimate proof of that: Americans are willing to elect an African American.

Personally, I think that’s an amazing thing.  But if you think about what a monumental step that would be, it should scare the crap out of you.  And it should send us back to the drawing board on campaign reform.

One thing I really do like about Obama is that he’s literally raised tens of millions in small contributions.  People who have never been involved in the political process, much less contributed to campaigns, have suddenly appeared on the radar.   I love this.  If that could be controlled, if corporate, union and bundled contributions could be squashed, if strict conditions could be imposed on 527s and other PAC animals, that might be the way to fund our primaries.

But when it comes to the general election, it needs to come down to two fighters on level turf.  A limited campaign – I like that 90 day kinda thing the Brits have – and equal funding.  Bring back the fairness doctrine and free and equal time for candidates in the general election.  Get the handlers out of negotiating terms for debates: show up or don’t, face the fire from audience and moderator questions, with followups.   Let the American people see who’s up to the job and who’s an empty suit for special interests.

Institute federal election standards, and lose this electoral college tomfoolery.

Then I think we might approach something that vaguely resembles what our founding fathers had in mind in designing our electoral process.

If we get through a clean election that isn’t thrown into the courts, I hope that in the midst of the myriad debacles facing our next president, campaign reform won’t get lost in the shuffle, either in the minds of our leaders or in the minds of the electorate.

If we go through another lawyered, litigated and adjudicated electoral charlie foxtrot, and then do nothing, we will truly be getting the government we deserve.

I appreciate all the positive comments from people who’ve found this blog.  Please, don’t forget to go by our storefront and help support the work we’re doing here. Not only will you help us pay the bills, but by ordering a shirt, a bag or a mug, you’ll get a nice memento of an amazing political season.

May the Higher Power of your choice guide your deliberations as we all take our voter handbooks, study the candidates, the races, the propositions and issues, and then exercise on franchise next Tuesday.