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.

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