CFR is the responsibility of the voters, not politicians.

My understanding is that there is a strong correlation between amount of money spent and probability of winning. I believe that reason for this is because voters, in general, do not want to expend the effort to get impartial views on the candidates, and therefore rely on what the candidates say about themselves.

The logical conclusion is that politicians who raise a lot of money and spend it telling the people about themselves are performing a service for the voters, which the voters reward by voting for the candidate. And yet people are constantly complaining about this system, that it reduces the voice of the masses in favor of the rich, and that politicians have to “do something” about it.

Sorry, but no one is putting a gun to these people’s heads and forcing them to vote for the rich candidate. “We want corrupt politicians” is what the voice of the masses is saying, and their voice is being heard loud and clear. And despite what people may think, politicians do ultimately derive their power from the people. As long as the people want corrupt politicians, any effort on the part of the politicians to clean up the system is bound to fail, because the politicians aren’t the root cause of the problem.

If people really want to reform campaign finance, the solution isn’t going to be in more laws. It’s going to be in increased awareness and involvement on the part of voters.

This would be true only in an environment with 100% (or close to) voting. Barring that, there could be (and often is) a difference between those that say that “all politicians are corrupt” and those that vote. Those that vote could simply be those who think that the corruption of the politician would be in their benefit, or who are utterly frightened by the possibility of the other guy winning, thanks to soft-money attack ads that usually at best have a passing familiarity with the truth.

No disagreement with the necessity of educating voters, however, and the first way to do that is to educate people into thinking of themselves as voters (or more properly, citizens). As long as people believe that politics doesn’t matter, that they don’t have a duty to vote or get involved in politics (or even their community) on some level, that they’re nothing but bloody consumptive/productive devices, they aren’t going to take the franchise seriously.

Actually not true. There’s a spending floor for viability, but no ceiling which correlates with success. If you see what I mean.

And if every “viable”–read as, institutionally backed and well-funded–candidate accepts soft money, what’s an aware and involved voter to do? Go for the Naders of the world? We saw how far that got us. Vote for neither big-money, big-party candidate? Since we’ve got no way to show opprobrium via None-of-the-Above, such a gesture is interpreted as political apathy.

Your points would be much stronger, The Ryan, if this weren’t a duopolistic, winner-take-all, first-past-the-post system.

I’m afraid I have to disagree with you, The Ryan.

Voters are put in a poor position. We are stuck in an essentially two party system, and that limits our choices. Voting for a third party candidate, however, is often a bad idea – look at Nader’s influence on the last election. Was he a positive influence for the liberals who voted for him? Instead, Bush is in the White House because of the liberal votes taken away from Gore.

Essentially, this system punishes those who want to go outside – unless they fall completely neutral between the parties and between liberal and conservative (which I would wager is rare) – because voting for candidates outside their third party will simply mean that their votes won’t ‘count’.

That is, I’m talking at the presidential level. There are, of course, exceptions – where independent or small party candidates have a chance in Hell of winning. Most of the time, this is not the case.

Asking the voters to go and do extensive research for every election and to pay no mind to smear campaigns is setting the bar a bit too high. Yes, it would be nice; so would everyone doing volunteer work and donating blood and being an organ donor. However, to set that standard instead of CFR (which is actually achievable) just isn’t progressive or realistic.

Well, I think that doesn’t really harm my position. If the people that are complaining about politicians don’t even vote, then they don’t have any right to complain. And the politicians shouldn’t listen to them.


I see what you mean, but it doesn’t make sense to me. If spending doesn’t correlate with success, why do politicians exert so much effort in fund raising?


You should make a choice independent of the money spent. If everyone did that, then spending money would be futile, and candidates would be less corrupt.



It’s my position that CFR at the top end isn’t achievable. We’ve already had bills on this, and it hasn’t solved the problem. I’m not asking people to turn this into a massive research project. Just think about how much time you spend listening to the richest candidate’s ads, and spend a comparable amount of time reading the opponents’ websites.

You would be 100% right if the only thing to deal with was individuals giving money. They real problem comes in when labor unions, corporations, PACs, etc. give money to candidates and/or campaigns. This happens to be one of my huge pet peeves with major corporations today – making donations to charities and politicians/political parties. I think CFR should be simple – allow unlimited donations from INDIVIDUALS and ban all money from any other source. Is there still room for abuse? Sure but it gets a lot harder.

Actually, the CFR is statutorily the responsibility of the bureaucrats.

Oh, you’re talking Campaign Finance Reform! I thought you meant the Code of Federal Regulations.

My bad. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, it isn’t so much how the money affects whether a Democrat or Republican wins, it’s how it affects who they spend their time with, how they view the world as a result, and how they have to worry about which backers to offend.

Yes, you do need to be in the same rough ballpark, moneywise, to compete. If only one candidate’s ads air, then in this media-saturated society, there might as well be just one candidate. What that ballpark is, I’m not sure. You can win being outspent 2-1, but almost never 10-1.

But I’d still put money on the candidate with the more money, all other things being equal. I bet studies have been done, and hopefully someone will be along with one in a minute, so we aren’t just speculating.

I remember one of the gubernatorial or senatorial races in VA in the mid-90s. (It may have been when Gilmore was running for governor.) The polls said the race was even until about 2 weeks to go, when the Democrat ran out of cash, and went off the air. Gilmore won comfortably.

But that’s just one example.

Anyway, money’s necessary. And you’ve got to raise it from someone. Rich people have more money than poor people, and corporations effectively have more money than both - because for them, spending this money is an investment that they anticipate a return on. (For most of us, it’s just money lost, if in a good cause.) What they’ll get is face time with the candidate, once s/he’s in office, and even politicians only have 24 hours in a day. And it’s a damned sight harder to cross those you spend time with, than those you don’t.

Which works out OK for most Republicans; the stream of money just makes most of them more pro-business than they started, which was pretty pro-business. But for Democrats and moderate Republicans, it’s a real problem: the money - the time spent with lobbyists to raise the money and in return for the money - pulls them to the right. The result is that, for Democrats and Republicans alike, the interests of the corporations - nonhuman creations - become more important than those of flesh-and-blood citizens.

IOW, money tilts the board away from the people and toward the corporate interests.

On the occasional well-publicized issue, the voters draw even with the corporate apparatchiks, and even win a few. But on many measures that few voters ever hear of, the corporations win without the voters ever knowing there’s been a battle.

Campaign finance reform made the news; but how much coverage was given to the provision that would have kept the prices of political TV ads at the rates paid by the TV stations’ best customers? You may have, and I did, but most people didn’t (oddly enough, it didn’t get much play on the news :rolleyes:), so it was defeated quietly, while the rest of the bill went through.

And that’s the way it is with most issues - they’re more like the TV provision than like the main thrust of the CFR bill. And the corporations win almost all of those.

And if you think they do well in Congress, you might check out your state legislature sometime.

The Ryan, of course they have a right to complain; even if they don’t vote, they’re still citizens. They’re citizens who don’t do their duty, but that doesn’t remove their citizenship, it merely weakens it.

In any case, your “logical conclusion” was that “they must approve of it, or they’d vote against it”. If you can’t vote against it (which was the point of the other posters in this thread), then another option is to not vote at all, believing that all politicians are corrupt and that voting won’t make a difference. Besides, there is a hell of a lot more to voting choices than the simplistic reward system you’re proposing here. Even rational choice theory at it’s most consumeristic doesn’t propose that. I mean, c’mon, let’s be honest. “We want corrupt politicians” does NOT follow from what you’re saying, unless you subdivide “we” until it’s an utterly useless subsection of the total citizenry. It’s ludicrous on its face.

I don’t even see why you’re saying CF wouldn’t work. You’re just saying it hasn’t worked to date, which isn’t the same thing. Why does it need to be absolutely successful to be a positive influence? This isn’t an either/or situation, and there is precedent. It worked for Canada back in the 70’s. It isn’t bulletproof, not by a longshot, but it can work, and has led to a political system that is much less money-oriented than the American one.