Campaign Finance Reform-End Money Control of Government
When it comes to defending our fragile democracy, restoring citizen control of government and reigning in corporate power, we are in the fight of our lives.
Without campaign finance reform no other meaningful reform is possible.
Asking money-controlled ruling party candidates to favor real campaign finance reform is like asking a turkey to be in favor of Thanksgiving. It’s impossible.
Democratic citizen control of government is ONLY possible by voting third-party or independent; they’re not controlled by money. Which shall rule, wealth or man? How many times do you have to be kicked in the rear end before you find out who’s kicking you? STOP WASTING YOUR VOTE!
You cannot change the status quo by voting for the status quo, it gives them no reason to change. Their ONLY reason to change is when you don’t waste your vote on them.
Our corporate ruling adversaries who own our lawmaking judges and politicians also own the third wing of government, the media. By controlling the media narrative they control public thinking. When former Tonight Show host Jay Leno asked people on the street to identify two photographs, they identified Joe Camel but couldn’t identify Joe Stalin. If historical amnesia isn’t a national goal, then the subject of history is tragically neglected in our schools.
Without knowledge of the past, we cannot make sense of the present.
What makes totalitarian rule possible, whether it is an autocracy, dictatorship, or, in our case, an oligarchy, is that people are not informed and cannot form opinions based on the facts. If all you hear is lies, then you cannot believe anything. A people that cannot believe anything can’t make up its mind, can’t act and can’t think, giving the ruling class unlimited authority and a blank check.
Without access to the truth, the public has nowhere to turn, especially our courtiers to corporate capital in the legislature or the governor. We can’t turn to the courts because they are generally appointed as unelected feudal stewards of capital who jealously guard their police power to control you.
Information doesn’t get to us from the outside because media journalists are merely stenographers of the state narrative.
Without the means to make informed decisions you discover you’re trapped in a cage, cut off from normal democratic processes and nowhere left to turn.
The suicidal effect of voter disengagement leaves the foxes guarding the henhouse and enables the seizure of political power by economic power. Of course, voting for the ruling parties is just as futile.
The only way to free ourselves from these shackles of confinement is a political revolution that must include those on the right and the left.
What difference does it make if your candidates are ‘already-chosen’ as in Communist China or ‘money-chosen’ as in an oligarchy like Minnesota or Russia? Both systems deny democratic citizen control of government.
Under a money-rigged system, it takes huge advertising budgets to catch the attention of the average voter. That means the wealthy influence peddlers win the election and the voters get to choose the least-worst candidate.
We must realize that contributions and other gifts from lobbyists and special interests to public servants are bribes.
Lobbyists today write ninety percent of the bills at the Minnesota Legislature. Ninety percent! Lobbyists buy, sell and rent politicians, including staffers and offer them revolving door lobbying jobs when they leave their public jobs. In fact, once a politician or staffer accepts an offer to work for the lobbyists, and before they’re officially hired, the lobbyist knows they’re already on the job working for free.
Until the US Supreme Court case, Citizens United v FEC, is overturned or an amendment to the Constitution is adopted that says, “Corporations are not people and money is not speech,” unlimited amounts of money can be spent to influence and undermine elections.
So how can we bring about citizen-owned elections, end conflicts of interest and political bribery?
I propose the following:
- A simple law that says, “No candidate or party shall buy time or space in the media. All time and space in the media shall be free of charge and elections shall only be eight weeks.” The money interests will call this welfare for politicians, but unless we own our politicians the alternative is that money will control our politicians and you.
- Prohibit lobbyists from bundling campaign contributions.
- Close the revolving door—elected officials and their staff must be barred for life from working for any company, organization, or association which lobbies the government. In addition, it should be illegal to get around lobbying by saying you’re a consultant who introduces an official to an individual at their law firm who tries to lobby them.
- Lobbyists should be banned from gift-giving as well—Instead of limiting the amount that lobbyists may spend on wining and dining elected officials and their staff; eliminate it entirely. No finger food, no snacks, no hot dogs. Nothing!
- Eliminate any contribution by those lobbying government participating as contractors, or otherwise financially benefiting from public funds, be it a company, a union, an association, a law firm, or an individual, if you get money or perks from the government or public officials, you should not be able to give a single red cent.
- Prohibit fundraising during legislative hours.
- End Gerrymandering—Transfer authority over redistricting to an independent, fully transparent, commission. Give commission members strict guidelines to follow that eliminate human bias. For instance, there is an open-source computer program called, “Auto-Redistrict” that could assist commissioners to create district boundaries fairly. Simply open a “shapefile” load in census and election data and hit “GO.” See http://autoredistrict.org.
- Minnesota’s Political Contribution Refund (PCR) program – established in 1990, allows donors to give to the candidate or party of their choice up to $50 per year. I propose giving every eligible resident a $75 credit, tied to inflation, the ability to contribute to candidates or parties that agree to fundraise only from small donors. The Campaign Finance Board could create an phone app to allow voters to set up a username, password, or PIN, with two-part authentication, to allow them to immediately donate their State credit online to the candidate or party of their choice without waiting for their contribution refund to come in the mail. If the PCR had been tied to inflation in 1990, your $50 donation would be worth $110 today.
- Automatically register eligible citizens to vote. Citizens can always decline to be registered.
- Eliminate Dark Money—Disclose the Donors—meaning stop donors from hiding behind non-profit secret-money groups like 501(C)(4) (social welfare), 501(C)(5) (unions) and 501(C)(6) (trade association) groups. These groups flood elections with money funneled through secret donors that spend money directly to influence elections and make unlimited contributions to super PAC’s which run ads to elect and defeat candidates or measures.
- Since we own the airwaves and the internet provide free or reduced cost advertising on Google, Facebook, and other platforms, as well as public and private television and radio for all candidates and take away their business charters to operate if they refuse.
- Free space in public buildings or subsidized space for political party headquarters or local branches.
- Free access to public stadiums and arenas for rallies.
- Free or subsidized campaign mailings.
- Provide access to political debates by ballot qualified candidates so pressing issues don’t go undebated, like campaign finance reform.
Notes: See 01-20-2010 City Pages, “The 10 Most Influential Lobbyists in Minnesota” https://web.archive.org/web/20181121170620/http://www.citypages.com/news/the-10-most-influential-lobbyists-in-minnesota-6724069