Thursday, February 22

PAC money and Publically Funded Elections

My friends in the "Democratic Wing of the Democratic party" will not like this, but it needs to be said. PAC money is part of the problem of politics. Basically, just like money from private "big" donors, it is dished out to folks who dance to your tune, whether it is labor unions or Boss Tweed, it still is about buying influence.

The only answer that makes sense is for elections to be publicly funded. Arizona and Maine are two states that have adopted this and it works!

John J. Higgins reports that "traditional campaign finance reform sounds like such a remedy, but dig a little deeper and you find that reform laws have done nothing to address the dilemma of big money in politics or to boost voter turnout. All they have done is make an already inefficient and confusing system more inefficient and more confusing. Catching the bad guys is important, but without real alternatives there is no real remedy... The public funding method has changed politics in both Arizona and Maine for the better, so much so that Arizona is seeing a staggering 67 percent increase in voter turnout since its inception. Furthermore, the percentage of highest spenders winning elections has gone from 79 percent before public funding to just 2 percent since, showing without a doubt that public funding takes the power of money out of campaigning and returns it to the strength of ideas. More minorities and women are running and winning using public funding, because it naturally gives voice to populations and communities that have been underrepresented in the past. It has freed up lawmakers from the money-chase and has allowed them the opportunity to become better community advocates. In Maine, lawmakers have rolled back industry tax credits, created the most progressive prescription drug program in the country and are moving toward universal healthcare for all citizens."

States such as Hawaii, Rhode Island, Washington, and Connecticut are considering public funding measures. If we really want to democratize the system, we need to try to level the playing field. The requirements of a publicly financed system are still stringent enough to limit the "crackpot" factor--because it requires a genuine support of the candidate for the grassroots.

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