Campaign Limits

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I had a smart friend propose an idea:

  • We spend a lot of time talking about limits to campaign contributions. Bundlers and SuperPACs pretty much make individual limits moot. So, why don't we limit how much politicians can spend on their campaigns? Last year, White House hopefuls spent $2 billion in the primaries and general election. How about we say, "You want the job? Great, you can spend no more than 10x the salary of that job"?

It's not a horrible sounding idea (it even appeals to people who don't think too long/deep on the topic), but like many "progressive" ideas, it falls apart under scrutiny. Like "Social Justice" there's no way to guarantee fair implementation/enforcement, and too many ways to either defeat or undermine it. In the end, you politicized the issue even more (created special interests to go after the rewards), provide larger incentives for cheating (guaranteeing more of it), all to remove consumer choice (for who they want to donate money to).

Think of the following

  1. It's antithetical to the idea of freedom/tolerance - example: you have a $10M cap on spending... and a 100M people want to donate a dollar to one candidate, who are you (the bureaucrat/voter) to tell them what they can contribute/spend and how? And why should you have the power over their freedom/choice?

(2) It's impossible to enforce -- too many allies and groups would do the spending for the candidate (in proxy)... so you'd reduce campaign spending transparency, not improve it. (3) If you tried to cap it on ALL allies spending, opposition could create a faux-ally, spend millions on non-issues or low priority issues, and burn all their opponents spend on things they didn't want to spend on. (4) What do you do about free donations -- e.g. a Mainstream Media that poured Millions (if not billions) in free support of Obama or Hillary, and equal amounts in trashing anyone that doesn't have a (d) after their name?

It's not just a good idea, it's the law....


Citizens united. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/424/1

Conclusion

In the end, you have to recreate things like a fairness doctrine to control the media from bias. So in order to have Campaign Limits, you have to back door into government control of the Press, and you sacrifice the 1st because some people don't like that other people can raise more money than their candidate can.

Remember, people are smarter than politicians and bureaucrats. Even if you had the best brain trust in the world writing the law, you'd have millions (or billions) of people trying to figure out how to subvert it. And the masses almost always win, in unexpected ways. So all the law does is empower the elite (the media) to bias elections even more. Which I'm sure those places want. But do you really want to hand our elections over to big corporations that own the media (like Disney/ABC, GE/NBC, Westinghouse/CBS, etc) ?