Like it or not, EVERY effort to reduce the influence of money, or of “special interests” in U.S. elections has turned out to be a disaster. After years of campaign finance “reforms,” money is more important than ever.
There’s no way around this fact: it’s extremely expensive to run a political campaign, no matter how frugal and honest you are. If YOU wanted to run for office, you’d have to spend a fortune, because (right now), NOBODY knows who you are. You’d have to spend a LOT of money on advertising, just to gain a modicum of name recognition. Suppose there were strict legal limits on how much money you could spend; YOU would have absolutely ZERO chance of defeating an incumbent politician, because that incumbent is already well known.
It’s no coincidence that both major parties have a lot of “celebrity” candidates (Sonny Bono, Bill Bradley, Steve Largent, Jack Kemp, J.C. Watts, Ralph Waite)- those people had a HUGE advantage, in that they were already well known before they began campaigning. It’s also not coincidence that there are so many multi-millionaires in Congress (interestingly, Congressional liberals are every bit as rich as any of the Republicans!)- those guys can spend their own money, and aren’t subject to campaign finance reform laws!
Now, why don’t other democracies have this problem? Because in countries with a parliamentary system, the Prime Minister is not chosen by “the people,” but by the leaders of his party! That USED to be the case in America, but the “democratization” of thge primaries in the 1970s changed allo that. Well, I’d say that if you really want reform, we should go back to the days of party bosses picking candidates in “smoke-filled rooms.” If this happened, candidates from both major parties would be less likely to pander to extemists on the left or the right, and they’d spend a lot less money in the process.
Before you complain, remember that the "smoke-filled rooms gave the Democrats FDR and JFK, while the democratic approach gave you Michael Dukakis. The “smoke filled rooms” gave the GOP Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower; the “democratic” approach gave us Bob Dole.
All in all, the BEST way to reform American politics would be for the people to start voting according to the principles of the parties, rather than the personalities of the candidates. IF the American people would simply decide what they beieve in, and vote for the PARTY that best represents those beliefs, then it wouldn’t matter how much money any candidate spent.