Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another Plea for Public Political Financing

My pal Jim Terr presented this on our local Public Radio station, KUNM:

Public campaign financing is the simple idea that if politicians didn’t have to spend half their time chasing campaign contributions, and kissing up to big campaign contributors, they’d have more time and attention for serving the needs of the so-called average citizen, than those of rich individuals, corporations and other businesses.

I see no reason to think that this situation – and this simple solution – applies any less on a state level, here in New Mexico, than it does nationally. And neither does the UNwillingness of most politicians to change the system. Why should they? They evidently like the attention, the money, whatever, even if it messes up their day, and their work product – as delivered to me, the consumer, the EMPLOYER. Yes, you and I hired these folks, our representatives, supposedly, to serve our interests.

I recently asked a popular statewide candidate what he (or she) thought about promoting public campaign financing?

Well, it’s an important issue, this person said, maybe I’ll give it more thought after I’m in office and take care of some other priorities. Thinking “Yeah, fat chance,” I asked why not now? Wouldn’t it make a dramatic point, and big news, if you came out for public campaign financing, while the campaign is just getting underway?

Well, frankly, he or she said, I don’t think most people are that interested in it. Are YOU interested in it, I asked – that’s the point. Do you think most people would be interested if they knew that it would only take $6 from each voter to replace ALL the money spent in all elections nationwide, including the billion dollars spent on the last presidential campaign?

Is that true? This person asked. I didn’t know that. Well, if this person didn’t know that, how many other people know that, and how could people be expected to be interested, if they didn’t know how cheap it would be to get their democracy back?

And now that the Supreme Court has ruled that huge corporations have unlimited rights to buy elections, to roll over any candidate who opposes the corporate agenda in favor of a human agenda, the need is even more urgent.

There are some single corporations like Exxon who could put up the full one billion spent on the last presidential election without blinking, since their profits alone, last year, were over 40 billion. And now there is nothing to stop them – you heard right.

So ask your friendly New Mexico legislator, or your favorite candidate for governor or lieutenant governor, where they stand on public campaign financing – now, not next time around, but now. If we can’t do it in New Mexico, as Arizona has, how can we expect it to happen nationally? And if we CAN do it in New Mexico – and in other states – we can help make it happen nationally. Before it’s too late, forever.
Honestly, I do not believe public funding would pull the corpoRat financing teeth, unless along with it there were an absolute ban on ALL private contributions. And I doubt, under the regime of Opus Dei SCROTUS, it would survive Constitutional challenge.

But you cannot fault the logic...


dancing_bear said...

I have to agree, plus would add a couple of additional caveats; first, the electoral process would have to be opened up to all contenders by making the requirements to get recognized as a candidate minimal, and secondly, by providing equal funding to all candidates out of the public pool for the administration of elections. No additional funding allowed, whether corporate, 'private' (rich influential friends), or one's own personal deep pockets. This might move the process back to being about issues, instead of personality smear campaigns. It would help to have a public mandate for proportional representation,as well as changing from a 'representative' system with fixed terms, to a 'delegative' system with immediate popular recall, just to keep the bastards honest. Having strict term limits and a lifetime limit of holding public office goes without saying. Anything less lets the 'revolving door' between government contractors and public policy (in reality public coffer spending) stay wide open to the would-be "Empire-builders" that inhabit Congress now. Eventually,we might end up with a "Real" constitutional democracy instead of the government by kleptocracy we have now.

One Fly said...

Agreed as well Woody.