In an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, the University of Baltimore’s law professor, Christopher J. Peters, suggested that three pieces of previously proposed legislation for campaign finance reform be passed as a stop-gap measure until a quality constitutional amendment can be drafted. [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-campaign-finance-20110705,0,786500.story]
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that elections are essentially a free-for-all, with virtually no limits on what influence the power corporations, unions, and other special interest groups can have on elections through unlimited spending.
Disputing the Supreme Court’s ruling supporting separation of state from elections, Peters wrote: “We cannot have elections without a set of laws with which to administer them, and we cannot have meaningfully fair and participatory elections unless those laws promote fairness and participation. In a democracy, the people themselves bear the ultimate responsibility for their laws, and this must be equally true of the laws that regulate how democracy works. To deny democratic government the authority to impose reasonable regulations on political campaigns is to deny the people the capacity to shape the government under which they live — hardly a democratic outcome.”
Peters goes on to suggest that these three previously proposed pieces of legislation be passed as a package. The Fair Elections Now Act [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1404] matches smaller private funds with larger public funds, thereby reducing the amount of time and favors members of Congress give to lobbyists and special interests. The U.S Shareholder Protection Act [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-4790&tab=summary] significantly limits and makes transparent corporate donations to candidates (a civil rights issue, when a product you buy goes to unknowingly support an ideology you disagree with). And the DISCLOSE Act [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISCLOSE_Act] closes finance loopholes and makes spending more transparent.
Powerful fundraisers in elections are deeply biased toward incumbents. The proposed Federal Term Limits 3.2.1. would help greatly to cap this unfair advantage, and fairer elections would allow for the politics of “what and how” to supplant the “who and when?” Also, ending the Electoral College (The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact) would put a stop to the obscene levels of spending of special interest money that stalk voters in the ten or so electoral college swing vote states, reestablishing the equal importance of every individual vote. Doesn’t this status quo reek of gaming the system? Maybe it’s a great system, but it can be GREATER.
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