Recently, the Supreme Court wisely overturned as unconstitutional the vaunted “McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Law” that restricted the ability of corporations to make contributions to campaigns.
Why is this a good thing?
First of all, the way the law was written, it tied the hands of business, while giving unions the opportunity to spend with virtually no restrictions. Given that unions (over the last 20 years, anyway) have given over 90% of their contributions to Democrats, this has created a lop-sided playing field.
Secondly, it really is unconstitutional for any class or group to be singled out and prevented from contributing to campaigns. Now I don’t want to see ANYbody – a fat cat, a union, a corporation – or a foreign entity – influence our elections in order to influence policy. Period. So…how do we keep things fair, preserve (or in this case, re-establish) a level playing field, and stay on the sunny side of the Constitution? I have a plan…
This is going to sound so simple, it will border on the simplistic. But give this a listen: Do not restrict ANY contributions at ANY level. Period. The more the merrier. But make it a Federal offense (with some serious jail time) to fail to report ALL contributions online. There. That’s it. That’s the whole plan.
You see, if we can achieve full transparency, anybody would be able to go online and see exactly who’s trying to buy a politician, and match up campaign contributions with the behavior of any elected official, after they take office.
Think of it – if Amalgamated Widgets contributes ten gazillion dollars to Senator Blowhard’s reelection campaign, and six months later, the good Senator pushes some kind of pork-barrel project that benefits Amalgamated’s business, we’ll all be able to connect the dots and throw the rascal out come election time. Or even better, recall the jerk and put him out of our misery.
Done correctly, this plan will actually have a chilling effect on corrupt politicians. After all, it won’t be a crime to take the contributions – but it will be a BIG one to try and hide ANY contribution, no matter how large or how small. By maintaining this information in a database that is available, 24/7, online, any interested party will be able to tell who’s working on their constituents’ behalf, and who’s in the pocket of their biggest contributors.
As long as people are involved in politics, it will always be corrupt. But the best disinfectant for corruption is sunshine. The light of day has a marvelous effect on politics. It’s time to make that happen, from the top on down.