Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buying Congress

Today's question from Brett J:
What reforms will you take to ensure that corporations and unions cannot "buy" seats in Congress and other positions, both legislative and executive?
There are really only two ways to "buy" seats in elected positions:

  1. To spend an extraordinary amount of money to influence voters
  2. To actually coordinate and commit voter fraud, including election rigging, etc. 
As for spending money, the solution is to not limit the amount spent by anyone (excluding foreign interests).  This allows everyone's voice to be heard regardless of how skillful you are at funneling money to the right places.  It is really the only fair way to do it and then hope the voters wake up to the truth.

A lot of these ad campaigns step way over the line into the illegal territory.  If I were president I would make sure one priority of the justice department would be to investigate and prosecute all election related crimes, regardless of party, race, etc.  We must have a fair election system in order to restore trust in government and ensure that those that wish to see the US destroyed do not have an illegal way into the government.  That, and those who just have shady motives.

On top of this, though, we ultimately need to make it less desirable to "buy" seats, beyond straight prosecution.  There must be ways to reduce the ability for congress to profit from their positions via special interests, inside information for their own personal business deals, ear marks to help their friends, etc.  Until you reduce the direct value of the position, people and groups will still try to buy their way in.

Maybe the original plan in the constitution for senators was right -- have them placed by their state legislature making them accountable to their state, not whoever can give them enough money to get elected.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Question: Money has too much influence in politics?

Today's question from American's Elect was asked by Shane M:
In the wake of the Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, many people believe that money has too much influence in political campaigns. Do you agree? If so, how might we reform current election laws to change this?
For better or for worse money will always be a part of politics. On the downside the political power that positions bring will always bring people who want to influence those decisions. On the upside, in a republic like ours it can be a way to voice our opinion and help get someone who we think will represent us and our interests into office.

My understanding of the Citizens United decision specifically is that it essentially allowed corporations and other organizations such as unions the ability to use unlimited funds to do their own political activities including those that promote or propose to remove a candidate.

The problem is not that corporations can contribute in unlimited amounts, but that ordinary citizens are limited.

People who feel strongly about a cause will find a way to help it. If they can't contribute directly, they will do it indirectly. Currently we have very low limits onto what an individual can contribute. If we removed this limit people could give directly without going through back-door channels.  They could join together to pool their money to do their own promotion without fear of the FEC.

I believe we should remove most contribution limits from United States Citizens and create stronger enforcement of disclosure and tracking laws. If you really want to give to that person, should you not have the right to do that with your own money? Should we not have the right to spend it how we want to?

This is part of having freedom and liberty - the ability to do with your own finances as you see fit.  Limiting this is simply further limiting our individual liberty and our voice in how we are governed.  Remember, in the US we grant the government its power over us -- a government of the people, by the people.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Americans Elect & their questions

If you have not already heard, there is an organization that is forming an alternative, internet based way of nominating a candidate for president.  Americans Elect is currently getting signatures to qualify their eventual candidate onto the ballots of every one of the 50 states.

Here you can register and "track" the candidates you are interested in.  Ultimately, those who get a sufficient quantity of "clicks" will qualify for their primary process.  They claim you can participate in their primary process as long as you are a registered voter and regardless of whether you voted in your own party's primary or not.  You do not have to change parties.

This could have a lot of interesting consequences on the election process itself, but I will let you think about that for awhile and put my comments in on it another time.

The most fascinating section is where registered members can post questions that they want to ask potential candidates.  Members can then rate them up or down.  You can look at the highest rated questions at .

I am planning on giving my own answers to several of the questions as I would answer them.  Are there any I should tackle first?  Hmmm....