Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Silverfiddle's Campaign Finance Reform

That quadrennial festival of canned talking points, fake plastic hero worship, pandering and lies known as the US Presidential Election is upon us, whether we like it or not.  Hillary Clinton will roll into the general election with over a billion dollars of big donor contributions, and the GOP candidate is expected to match that.

Like my liberal friends, I hate the outsize influence big money elites have on our elections.  I sat down and thought up some Federal Election Commission rules to try to put us all on equal footing, and here is what I came up with:

Silverfiddle's Federal Campaign Rules

* Limit the primary season to three months, and the general campaign season to three months.

* Limit fundraising season to a one year period prior to the election. Politicians and candidates may not raise, collect or spend so much as one cent of campaign cash outside of that period

* Elected politicians and declared candidates may not accept any gifts, plane rides, vacations, cash, meals, or even a ballpoint pen under any circumstances. Nothing. Ever.

* Only registered voters may contribute to a candidate. If you can't vote, you can't contribute any money to the campaign.

* One Person, One Vote, One Dollar (or $1000. Whatever we decide the amount each voter can spend is).  I don't care if you're Sheldon Adelstone, Darkwing Duck from Snob Hill, or Shirley Sue from Sheepdip Holler. Each citizen can only spend X amount of dollars.

* All contributions go through and are registered with a government entity like the FEC, who then doles out the cash to the candidate and posts the transaction on-line. Any money transfers outside of this channel are illegal and will be prosecuted.

* Only registered voters may engage in "campaign speech" advocating a candidate. Businesses cannot, organizations cannot, corporations cannot and unions cannot. However individual members of such entities who are voting US citizens may pool or bundle their money, but contributions of each person goes against their overall authorization.

* For the general election, major party candidates running against a president/senator/congressman gets equal time in the news media.

Free Speech 

After coming up with such a brilliant list of rules, I realized it was all for naught. I don't know what to do about a Citizens United type case where an organization like Citizens United publishes a book, or a person like Michael Moore makes a movie about a candidate.

Regardless of what you think of the leftwing gob of hog lard wrapped in human skin, what he produces is art, and it falls under free speech.  So, he could literally produce a movie bashing GOP presidential nominee Ted Cruz right before the election, and government may not interfere.

Something else to consider...

What happens when a candidate publicly attacks the coal industry or Planned Parenthood? Prohibiting them from responding would be a gross injustice.  Is there a financial limit on their response?  Is it federally-circumscribed "electioneering?"

Communication is changing drastically...

I was almost ready to propose a roll-back of Citizens United, and declare a federal campaign a unique phenomenon of the government and the people and therefore subject to special rules. Essentially a legally-designated special class of activity with a bubble over it where the activity is tightly-controlled in the interest of shutting out corporate and outside noise so that each citizen's voice may be heard.

Alas, I believe that is impossible in this day and age...

* No more Big Three networks acting as gatekeepers.

* Thousands of channels, the age of free YouTube, tweets, etc.

* Americans have daily access to foreign press, which is not under US jurisdiction

What if an individual fires off a tweet or makes an independent YouTube video about a candidate that goes viral?

Limit campaign speech over the Internet? How? What if it emanates from outside US jurisdiction?


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