How Should We Get Big-Money Influence Out of Congressional Elections?
Posted by eemilla on January 3, 2009
My comment on the HuffPost was truncated due to space, so I expanded it a bit here.
The Durbin/Specter solution [to tax broadcast networks in order to finance elections] is great as long as it applies to all for-profit networks; I propose that the networks be offered the option of either providing broadcast time or paying the tax. The provided air time would be required to be either in prime time or a slot of the candidates’ choosing; I feel this method would provide more exposure than relying on the big four. Alternatively, all networks that chose to provide air time in lieu of the tax would air a series of debates. As presidential campaigns command more attention from the general public, it only makes sense that the financing reform would start with a national debate. Any thought of subsidized elections must enact campaign limits so that the price of campaigning doesn’t continue to grow. We often focus just on the dollar amount; in the last election the three longest running candidates were also supposed to be serving US Senate terms. Allowing career politicians to neglect and retain their incumbent seats while campaigning to rise to higher office (at any level including municipal) creates another barrier for average citizens to participate in our democracy; most small businesses couldn’t bear the cost of an employee being on leave for two years, and I am not sure how many Americans could afford to stop focusing on breadwinning for two years to run for office.
Finally, any discussion of campaign reform has to include the opening of the races; I want to vote for the best candidate whether it is in the primary or not, and the best candidates may not be in the same party. There are more than two parties in this country, and I am ready to add those other voices to the mix. I hope that by providing the Green or Libertarian perspective I may be spared of another debate focusing on a candidate’s patriotism as evidenced by the presence or absence of a lapel pin. Ending the Democrats’ and Republicans’ strangle hold on the Commission for Presidential Debates is essential to any meaningful reform and any meaningful debate.