And now the Democrats join the Republicans in forming an “independent” group to go after the opposition:
The Democratic National Committee plans to target Republican John McCain and help Democrat Barack Obama with an independent ad campaign run by veteran Democratic strategist Jonathan Prince, Democrats familiar with the decision said Thursday.
By law, the effort would be prohibited from coordinating with either Obama’s presidential campaign or with the DNC. The ads would be financed with party money, however.
The Democrats asked for anonymity because the decision had not yet been formally announced.
Honestly, is there a bigger joke than Campaign Finance reform? If anyone can explain how all this nonsense is preferable to just lifting the restrictions and requiring only immediate disclosure, fill me in. I am all ears.
No matter what, when you leave it to politicians to ‘reform’ campaign finance (the meat they need to win the next election), you will only get what they are willing to give. Which ain’t much.
IMO, the only way we will ever get meaningful campaign finance reform is when we have term limits. Once we have term limits, I would bet that many politicians will grow spines because the ones who are facing their final term will more than likely vote for what is best for the public to leave a ‘legacy’ behind of their willingness to stand up to the rest of the pols and ‘do what’s right’.
Until then, it will be more of the same.
Conservatively Liberal, you ARE aware that “term limits” was a plank of the Republicans 1994 “Contract with America” that incumbents offered and which kicked off the Con revolution?
“Term Limits” is a simplistic and sensible-sounding solution to the entrenched political operatives in Washington, but in practice it simply makes the office holders LESS interested in representing their constituents while they plan their career-spanning rides on the Washington carousel from political office to consultant office to lobbyist office to private industry office … political office being then only the entry point.
We the People need to get away from simplistic solutions and re-engage in our government. Term limits are the VOTERS responsibility. It is necessary for the citizens to be and remain intelligently engaged with their government. Yes this is disastrous news for America.
A “king” sounds like a simplistic and sensible-sounding solution to many lazy citizens who prefer to be subjects. And we have a “king” now, make no mistake. (The first in American history, but of course now there will be a long line of applicants.) The Right Wing is made of lazy voters who, consciously or not, make it their business to hand all our freedoms to the Leader They Annoint.
Term Limits plays right into their hands with the notion you can’t “trust” politicians. Well, no, there is no need to trust a politician: transparency and the rule of law are needed. The real problem in benighted, over-indulged Imperial America is that you cannot trust the voters.
Fuck it. We don’t have the luxury of being noble in these times.
Snarki, child of Loki
Full, public, disclosure is the only way to go.
So, scrap the donation limits.
HOWEVER, candidates will have to be tatooed with the names of their donors, and the size of the tattoo determined by the size of the donation. That way, voters will be able to tell which candidate is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Exxon-Mobil, just by looking.
In a couple of election cycles, I expect that the GOP candidate will have to dress like Darth Vader, which is completely appropriate.
As long as there is no way to enforce misdeeds prior to an election, CFR will remain a joke. Here eyebrows are raised wrt the DNC, and everyone in the media has forgotten that McCain has committed criminal violations when he jumped in and out of public funding within the same cycle.
CFR problems are just the epiphenomenon.
Campaign finance reform is a joke, and has always been a joke ever since the Supreme Court decided money is the equivalent to speech in politics in Buckley v. Valeo way back in 1976. Thanks to that decision it’s impossible to limit how politicians spend their money, and we see how well limiting how they get it is working out, especially when our modern Supreme Court interprets campaign finance laws in a manner that renders them useless. As far as I’m concerned, the only solution to this is public financing for those candidates who are not independently wealthy, so they don’t have to beg, borrow and steal from corporate donors to have a chance at winning an election. But try getting the American taxpayers to pony up for THAT now.
I am not going to pretend to be an expert on the specific laws of the past ten or so years, nor on campaign finance reform. But wouldn’t the events you describe above simply reveal a flaw in the system, not a problem with the idea itself?
I’ve sort of liked the idea of the 527s because it seemed like they were forcing disclosure, even if it was in a roundabout way. We knew who the Swift Boat people were in 2004 and what their goal was, for instance.
I also like the idea of limits on how much people can collect from a particular donor. At least in theory, it prevents certain people or groups from simply buying an election.
I’m open to being convinced otherwise, however. If you’ve got some stuff you want me to look at, give me the links.
Barack Obama’s fundraising performance – and the way it revolves around small donations from regular people – has turned me around on the campaign finance.
It’s no longer an insider’s game, or even a rich person’s game. The internet is the great leveller.
Campaign finance reform sucks, but no limits (with immediate disclosure) sucks too. Here in Virginia we have no limits and the results can be a nightmare. Our (wingnut fascist) Attorney General was elected (by only several hundred votes) from an onslaught of last-minute unlimited donations. Also, the (wingnut fascist) state senator from Winchester used to be general counsel for the RNC and won by getting $1M in out-of-state donations.
Overall, I think that public financing that increases with opponent spending is probably the right answer. Limits on spending prevent the rich from simply buying elections. of course, the rich can do that now, but they have to actually be the candidate, which is much too hard for most rich people to do (the record of self-funders is pretty bad, Bloomberg, Corzine, and Kohl excepted).
We have local and state-level term limits in California, but I have not noticed any spine-reinforced politicians. Instead, the Democrats and Republicans conspired to use re-districting to create “safe” seats, so that even when a politician gets termed out, the politicians can make sure that a party-preferred candidate gets first choice. On top of this, elected officials play a game of political musical chairs in which they jump from one office to another, with the occasional rest stop as an appointed commisioner or consultant to one of their cronies.
Term limits in California has also had absolutely no impact on political contributions.
I have never understood the appeal of public financing, since it means that MY money might be used to underwrite the campaigns of people I detest, whose positions I strongly oppose, and who I would never vote for in a million years.
And the current crazy system of federal matching funds has done nothing to curb donations by special interests.
I agree with those who are for more transparency. As noted California pol Jesse Unruh once said, “money is the mother’s milk of politics.” It is pointless to try to limit the flow, but you can reasonbly try to identify the sources.
I have been fundamentally wrong about two big things in recent years: federal takeover of airport screening and campaign finance reform. These things theoretically could be done well by the federal government, but in practice, both have been such horrible disasters that they should be eliminated.
Yep! The Obama campaign absolutely complies with the spirit of campaign reform efforts. He was able to successfully challege Hillary Clinton and other candidates who depended on big donor contributors, and he also allowed the average citizen to have equal footing with insiders and special interests.
Obama (and the first efforts of Howard Dean to use the net and other sources as a political base) so fundamentally changed the nature of the debate about campaign finance that the pundits are still trying to catch up in comprehending the implications of this successful challenge to the way that political campaigns have traditionally been financed.
True, but would you rather that money come from Exxon, or a nearly untraceable collection of PACs that exist only to help hide who the true donors are? That money might be used by politicians you detest, but it could also be used by politicians who you would love who would never run without it.
Disclosure is all well and good, but the Supreme Court has stated that there is a point at which disclosure requirements because unduly burdensome on free speech. So those of you who call for “all disclosure all the time” should remember that. Then there’s the question of wading through all that data…how’s the average voter supposed to know who donates to their candidate? And what are they supposed to do with that knowledge anyway? Vote for the guy with the $10,000 campaign funds war chest instead?
Disclosure is an important element to this presently broken system. But it’s an incremental improvement at best, and certainly will not fix anything in the long-term.
Agree with Brachiator about the effect of Term Limits in California. Termed out as State Senator? No problem, run for the State House seat. And back the other way and then maybe run for Mayor of Oakland while you’re at it (see “Brown, Willie” and “Brown, Jerry”)…and after that if the “up” ladder is blocked you can probably find a nice, cozy appointment to a “Commission to Study Something We Were Too Gutless To Vote On While We Were Actually In Office” type of position…or a Think Tank cubicle. All Term Limits has done here is to establish a default template for anyone who happened to once-upon-a-time get elected to a State Representative seat so they can continue to “serve” the public.
Meanwhile, anything remotely resembling “serious” or “controversial” legislation gets pushed to the Initiative Process, where huge sums of moolah will be spent to convince/connive the Voting Public to vote “Yes” or “No” on poorly written slop that will likely end up wending it’s way up through the State Appeals Court process for the next couple of years or so.
OH…but to be fair, the Legislature IS currently working diligently on a bill to restrict the sale of helium-filled balloons.
The best idea I’ve heard of is to lift all restrictions, and clear all contributions through a central clearinghouse, so that they’re all anonymous. You can’t buy influence if you can’t prove you actually paid, you know?
Yes, and a stopped clock is right twice a day. Would you rather have the mess we have now with incumbent Senators and Congresscritters who play to their big money campaign donors/business, or would you like the idea of ‘flushing the toilet’ periodically? Personally, I would prefer flushing the toilet on a regular basis, which would keep moving fresh people into Congress and moving the old turds out.
It ain’t perfect, but I would rather give a wider array of candidates for the job a chance against the entrenched power interests in Congress. Term limits does that. I am not hard core about the idea, I am just sick and tired with ‘business as usual’ in Washington.
You can’t buy influence if you can’t prove you actually paid, you know?
No, but you can make some damn good inferences.
Worse you would wind up with them erring on the side of caution and just bending over for anyone who *might* have had to pockets to plunk down that five figure or six figure donation they got.
I honestly don’t care that Exxon gives to some politicians. I am always amused when people in California whine and moan about corporate special interests who give millions to politicians, but who think that public employee unions who also give millions are somehow better. Anybody with power and an axe to grind jockeys for influence, and few have clean hands.
I do not think it an acceptable compromise to subsidize the election of someone I view as an evil creep just so that someone I prefer might also get elected.
Term limits in California has not produced a wider array of candidates for political office. Jerry Brown had a long political career which saw him rise to become governor of California. After some time in the wilderness, he came back as mayor of Oakland and is now serving as attorney general. Termed out state legislators become county officials or run for other statewide offices. Even a relatively “new” face in the past, LA mayor Dick Riordan, had been a wealthy behind-the-scenes player in local politics before he decided to run for mayor.
The only real term limits that work is a willingness on the part of citizens to vote for candidates who will work for their best interests.