Campaign Finance Reform -- What Will Work?
IMPERFECT MESSENGER, IMPERFECT MESSAGE
Here is a statement on campaign finance reform from TomPaine.com. It is printed here with the permission of TomPaine.com and we recommend a visit to that web site.
Last week Al Gore said he’s an "imperfect messenger" for campaign reform. Then he made a bold proposal, including a "Democracy Endowment" -- public money to fund general election campaigns for Congress.
Sounds good... but take another look.
Because it offers only general election funding, Gore's plan would throw good public money after bad special-interest money. That's just like the current presidential system -- nothing more than a public subsidy for the fat cats.
Look at the Gore and Bush campaigns. Both soon will receive huge public subsidies after depending on big donors in the primaries. But it's too late to liberate them from the special interests. Why should they get any public money now?
A better model is "clean money" campaign reform -- primary and general election public funding for candidates who want it, but none at all for those who don't.
Candidates who want to escape the money chase, and the obligation to donors that goes with it, can take the "clean money option" -- if they foreswear most private money they get public funding for both the primary and general elections.
Candidates who reject public money may shake the special-interest money tree or fund themselves, just as they do now.
Voters get a clear choice of candidates. They can decide who will best represent them.
A new poll shows solid voter support for clean money reform… and growing disapproval for George W. Bush’s style of cash campaigning.
Give Gore credit for his proposal. But a serious reformer would go all the way and promote full “clean money” reform.
If Gore did so, he could say: "OK, George, you like raising special-interest money? Go ahead. But the rest of us can be free."
That’s a better message for an imperfect messenger.
What do you recommend as a way to deal with the role of money in electoral campaigns? Tell your proposal to The Progress Report:
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