Campaign Finance & Election Reform Policies

Everyone knows the system is broken. Everyone knows that safe districts, gerrymandering, thinly veiled issue advertising, and individual candidates raking in over $650 million dollars is wrong. Everyone knows that this election saw the death of the publicy financed presidential campaign system. But how can it be fixed? Well the biggest problem in fixing it is that those who control the safe districts and interest groups and campaign finance collectors have the power but DON’T WANT IT FIXED! If it it ain’t broken for them, why fix it? We however, are not them. It is broken and needs to be fixed, and if they refuse to provide the leadership, we will.

 

“The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican. It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” – The Federalist No.39 Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles

1.  Only US citizens who are 18 or older and who have not had their civil liberties revoked are qualified to vote in Federal elections. To that end, the secretaries of state from the various states will issue Voter Registration Card. Voter registration information may not be accessed by law enforcement for any other purpose than investigating voter fraud issues. The card will pass certain FEC criteria for the following:

Tamper-proof;
Name;
Polling Place;
Unique registration number in bar code format;
Digitized Thumb print;
Signature;
The maximum fee that can be charged for such ID is $5.00

2.  The FEC in conjunction with the secretaries of state to continue improving voter machine technology and upon Congressional approval, Congress shall provide matching funds to the states for improvements in voter machines.

3. Federal Congressional Districts within the states will continue to be based on census data. The secretaries of state will employ the use of a computer software system contracted by the FEC that will scientifically and impartially determine Congressional Districts based solely on geographic boundaries and raw population data provided by the Census Dept. and will eliminate “safe districts” and gerrymandering. Cultural, socio-economic, racial, ethnic or other artificial distinctions are not sufficient reasons for deviation of Congressional Districting

4. The role of federal elected officials and policy makers is to serve the interests of their constituents and the country in general. To effectively execute this duty, they must rid themselves of conflicts of interest and breaches of the public trust and to restore the confidence in our public institutions.

5. The role of major political parties should be to facilitate the organization, discussion, compromise and passage of legislation and policy, not to shape the country’s polices top down from party elite, powerbrokers and lobbyists

6. Federal election law amended to prohibit convicted felons from seeking, winning or holding federal office, registration as a lobbyist or hold any other political appointment which requires Senate confirmation, regardless of whether that person is incarcerated or not until such time as that person’s civil rights are restored by either a state or federal court.

7. All federal candidates for President, Congress and Senate must provide to the FEC irrefutable proof of citizenship status or birth which will be made public record (in compliance with HIPPA) and further, all federal candidates must submit to and pass an FBI security check.

8. All federal candidates for President, Congress and Senate must participate in a public financed campaign system. Individual candidates are not restricted on expenditures of their personal finances.

9. The FEC will develop a system for the collections of all campaign contributions which will be designated either as for an individual candidate or a party. All contributions will be disbursed to Presidential and Senate Candidates/political parties on a bi-weekly basis based on aggregate positions of state or national approval rate based scientific polling data from at least five independent sources. Individuals and corporate donors will not be restricted on the amount they contribute. Union contributions will be restricted to use of dues that is specifically authorized by individual union members for political purposes.

10. In the case of Congressional candidates, disbursement of campaign funds will be based on aggregate approval rating data provided by scientific polling data from at three independent local sources.

11. For the purposes of transparency and certification, polling sources must be registered with the FEC and polling methodology shall be public record and free for inspection.

12. This will ensure that it is the message that will be heard and not the favors promised or money exchanged which will allow candidates to compete from across all qualified parties.

13. All qualified candidates/parties will receive an equal amount of funding at the beginning of the respective primaries and general elections. This funding will be provided by surpluses from campaign funds from the previous election cycle. At its inception, funding will be based on the combined reported campaign funds of all qualified candidates/parties which will be a one time expenditure from the general funds of the United States Government.

14. Presidential primaries will take place as regional primaries and will mirror the US Circuit Court districts. The order of the presidential primary regions will be selected at random by the FEC and will be announced on January 21st, following the inauguration.

15. All federal elected officials, appointed judges, military officers (O-5 and above) and other political appointees (including spouses) which receive Senate confirmation, must place all personal securities, business and retirement investments into a blind trust during the tenure of service. Upon retirement, resignation or completion of service, such investments will remain in a blind trust for up to three years based on length of service. This will ensure that conflicts of interest and use of insider knowledge can be avoided to a great extent. These individuals are expected to act as servants of the American people and stewards of the American dream, not to use the federal government to line their pockets during or after their service.

16. All federal elected officials, appointed judges, military officers (O-5 and above) and other political appointees (including spouses) which receive Senate confirmation, upon retirement, resignation or completion of service, shall be prohibited from serving as registered federal lobbyists for a minimum period of four to eight years based on the length service. This will ensure that conflicts of interest and use of insider knowledge, familial bonds and political patronage can be avoided to a great extent. These individuals are expected to act as servants of the American people and stewards of the American dream, not to use the federal government to line their pockets during or after their service.

17. Federal ballots for President, Senate and Congressional candidates shall include a non binding, “None of the above” selection. In the event of a “None of the above” victory on a ballot, the second place vote earner will be deemed to be the winner. The opportunity will still allow voters to vote their conscious without compromising principles or being stuck choosing “the lesser of two evils”. Additionally, a winning vote of “None of the above” will send a message to Congress and the President about the power of their perceived “mandates” and an accurate barometer of the electorate.

18. Constitutional amendment granting the President the line-item veto. Bills must stand or fail on their own merit. Congressmen wanting specific provisions attached to bills must stand up and defend provisions rather than forcing critical legislation to be passed regardless of pork barrel sweeteners that may have been added or legitimate legislation being killed because of strong arm tactics by disgruntled legislators who owe someone a favor.

Do you support this campaign finance and election reform plan?
( polls)

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13 Responses to Campaign Finance & Election Reform Policies

  1. Fernley Girl says:

    I’m on board and ready to volunteer.. I made a made a similar, but less detailed post at AmericasRight.com. It fell on deaf ears. Have plenty of time, little money, and some decent brain cells left between my ears.

  2. Fernley Girl – Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and comment. I appreciate your input and enthusiasm. I don’t count the deaf ears out yet, we just need to start spreading the word any help you can get, I’m glad to have. Don’t stick to talking points and preaching to the choir, engage and find common ground!

  3. sanityinjection says:

    Baby steps – Many US states don’t require any form of ID at all to be presented at the voting location, including my own. Let’s mandate that first before we get ot a National Voter ID card.

    I agree with much of this, but not your proposal for campaign financing. I don’t see how you can justify the government taking a private citizen’s freely donated money and withholding it from their candidate of choice based on their lack of improvement in the polls. Apart from being wrong in principle, the effect of this would be to strengthen incumbents, political machines, and members of famous families such as the Kennedys, Bushes, and Clintons, while limiting the ability of challengers to get their messages heard. By giving an equal amount of money to all candidates to begin with, you are not creating a level playing field, but reinforcing an unequal one.

  4. @ Sanityinjection – I appreciate your comment and can see exactly where you’re coming from. I would concede that redistribution is a subject that one must tread lightly on and under other circumstances, I would agree however, allow me to address your concerns, and I think you might also see the necessity.

    “I don’t see how you can justify the government taking a private citizen’s freely donated money and withholding it from their candidate of choice based on their lack of improvement in the polls.”

    Think of this as a progressive “political income tax” which rather than rewarding failure, rewards public opinion success. Besides, the citizen may choose not to donate money but time and involvement instead, blogging, phone banking, precinct walking etc.

    “Apart from being wrong in principle, the effect of this would be to strengthen incumbents, political machines, and members of famous families such as the Kennedys, Bushes, and Clintons, while limiting the ability of challengers to get their messages heard.”

    What about our present system weakens incumbents, political machines, and members of famous families such as the Kennedys, Bushes, and Clintons? The only check on these machines is public opinion, but when public opinion is bought and sold, it becomes useless and little more than a high school popularity contest. Would Obama have been as successful had he stuck to the publicly financed system? I’d venture to say not. Parties, machines, and the Soros’ of our country live by Hearst’s adage, freedom of the press belongs to he who owns it. Imagine the shake up a dark horse candidate like Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee could have caused had they at least initially been on a financing par with McCain or Obama!

    I would respectfully disagree that a dark horse party or third party challenger would be at a disadvantage when getting the message out beginning on an equal footing. Further, New Hampshire and Iowa would no longer determine a candidate’s viability to potential donors and supporters and safe districts would no longer be safe. After this election cycle, the publicly financed campaign system is effectively dead, as no candidate will allow themselves to be outspent like McCain did. The only other possibility would be to have a parliamentary system or break up the Republican and Democratic parties into separate regional parties that can maintain affiliations but not funding taking the “anti-trust” approach. Sadly redistribution until such time as parties and machines no longer control politics from city councils to the White House, is the only viable solution to breaking the stranglehold on American politics.

    In writing a correspondence to a friend, Washington wrote: “Let that party set up a broomstick, and call it a true son of Liberty, a Democrat, or give it any other epithet that will suit their purpose, and it will command their votes in toto!”
    Washington went on to say in his farewell address:

    “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”

    Madison echoed this sentiment describing factions in Federalist #10 as “…a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

    Madison also said, “There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.” Because neither of these are possible factions must exist. However, the way to maintain a balance of power is through a “multiplicity of faction.” If they are all fighting for the same power, factions will give a little to gain a little.

    I believe that my plan would satisfy the balance Madison sought in assuring liberty and not imposing control over individualism. It does not ban parties or restrict their ability to attract supporters nor does it impose control over voters predilections. It does ensure that initially, there is a balance of power and multiplicity of factions that have equal access to the voters. From their the powers of factions are determined from effective use of limited funding that correlates directly to the opinions, passions and interests that the parties are their to serve.

    The parties today do not represent a multiplicity of faction. If TR in the height of his popularity could not run successfully on the Bull Moose ticket, there is little chance under the present political scheme that a third party will rise to power and challenge the preeminence of either the Republican or Democratic party. I doubt that any of the Founding Fathers would run today where they here, and that is a sad commentary on our present state.

  5. Kindlingman says:

    I am opposed to most of this.
    This country is not the Federal States of America and it should never be. We are the UNITED States of America, each state being free to choose its own course for its citizens so long as those citizens enjoy the freedoms in the Bill of Rights. We are united in principles and not bound by the federal government.Almost everything above is federal control over state actions or federal control over citizens. Totally unacceptable to me.
    Note: I am a mouse and I do not want the cat to make a better mousetrap.You are a mouse, too. Did you know that?

  6. @ Kindlingman – I understand your frustration and given a different state of affairs, I would look at this proposal with much of the same apprehension. However, where we stand today, do you see a point in time where a third party candidate can successfully challenge the two party political bi-opoly much less force fundamental change in the political atmosphere either on a statewide or national level?

    It is interesting to note that TR, the trustbuster, was probably the last time where a third party was politically viable on a national or state level, but even he couldn’t break through the machinery that controlled the political machinery. Frankly, I don’t want to build a better mouse trap, I want to build a cat trap. The problem right now is that those who make the campaign laws do it in a way that is most beneficial to maintaining the status quo and a concentration of political power and fundraising. To compete with the two parties is cost prohibitive without any mechanisms for equilibrium.

    What proposals would you suggest to make the political market place, more neutral and not skewed against third parties and dissidents within the Democratic and Republican parties?

  7. Kindlingman says:

    I propose forgetting about a national third party and go for a state level third party. As a matter of fact, I would propose a regional third party that could garner enough votes to throw the election into the House of Representatives. Eight states in the Midwest could do it if they could get behind a single issue, say, for example, protecting the Great Lakes water supply from filchers in the southwest. OR perhaps a cultural rejection of the immoral eastern and western coasts. OR perhaps the protection of property rights from federal confiscation. Or the return of federal lands to state control. OR guns in the mountain states. Many issues could work against the two party system at a local level.

    Any up and coming party that can throw an election ON PURPOSE into the House will gain huge support if its core beliefs have merit. I think we should look at thwarting the power of the two parties at the local level first, second at the regional level, and perhaps then the federal level will have a chance.

    No one gives up power if they think it will be used against them. That is why grass roots approaches are best. Imagine, if you will, a mexican american regional power in the southwest that can throw an election into the House. They would get their issues addressed wouldn’t they? By both parties, too.

    We do not lack the means to develop a third party, we lack the will. I am speaking collectively, of course.

    We need more mice to thwart the cat. Remember Ben?

  8. I can see the merit in your suggestion of a regional third party movement, my chief concern though would be the amount of money that would pour into these states from the two parties to either buy off, corrupt or simply drown out the insurgents. I think though the insurgency must come from within the two parties first and once they can make a big enough natural stink in championing the third party cause, some definate headway can be made.

    Perhaps the most basic step would to propose that local elections be non-partisan in that way, you don’t have the built in cache of being the “republicrat” endorsed candidate and move from city and county elections to state elections being non-partisan. I just worry that without a national presence pushing legislation to even the playing field, flames of political rebellion get snuffed out before they can get “dangerous” to the establishment.

  9. sanityinjection says:

    I’m not sure why either of you feel that a third party, in and of itself, is automatically going to be a positive force for change. The Reform Party wasn’t; neither are the Green and Constitution parties today. Most third parties are either vehicles for a particular politician, or fringe movements driven by ideologues with no concept of how to work with people they disagree with to reach effective compromises. The problem isn’t that they can’t compete because they don’t have enough money; rather, they can’t raise money to compete because they are inherently off-putting to most Americans. A regional party would be even worse, reviving the kind of sectionalism that led to the Civil War. If you need an example of how that sort of thinking can destroy a country, just look at our neighbor to the north.

    I’m not against third parties, but I also recognize that the two-party system is part of what has keept our nation politically stable for nearly 150 years.

  10. @ Sanityinjection – i have no misconceptions that third parties are automatically benevolent and that the major parties are inherently bad. The problem I have is that the factionalism the two parties offer is surface level at best and masks the similarities the two parties actually have and the concentration of money and power within their respective “leaderships”. Under the current atmosphere, I feel that the two parties create more of a Washington oligarchy which is content to trade on and off knowing that regardless of apparent control, they retain a significant amount of power.

    Short of a politician sheding party labels and spending a personal forturne to buy a seat, or neither party being able to provide a viable candidate in a race, the parties are in large part the gate keepers to funding, media and a non-politician would have very little chance to run a successful campaign against to behmoth machines. I truly believe that a system such as I described above would at least create an initially even playing field which would allow third party candidates at least an opportunity to begin with to present their position to the electorate at large and let the electorate judge them after they’ve had a chance to be heard.

    I personally do not care for overarching federal legislation, nor do I like the idea of the “progressive political income tax” and in a perfect electoral world there would be no need for either. But given the system we have today, I believe the cure while distasteful, is far less damaging than leaving the system the way it is now. If the current income tax is good enough for the American taxpayer in the eyes of the politicians, then the political tax I propose should be fine with them.

  11. sanityinjection says:

    I don’t know. Sometimes a cure can be worse than the disease 🙂

  12. Think of this then as chemotherapy for electoral cancer. It is harsh, distasteful, and a taxing on the body politic (literally and figuratively) but a possible cure none the less. McCain Feingold has been an unmitigated failure and the more concentrated the power becomes in the DNC and RNC, the less opportunity for reform exists.

    I see it this way. The Republicans are one fox and the Democrats are a second fox the henhouse and yard are the government and we the chickens, are the voters. What we currently ask is for the two foxes that have complete control of the henhouse and the yard, to be benevolent to us chickens who may occasionally dissuade a particular fox by collectively pecking at one or the other. I don’t want a third fox in the yard but a watch dog. While a watch dog may decide to eat a chicken or two, there’s a competing interest with the foxes and the dog. The dog may be a spoiler to the foxes, but has enough inherent power to occasionally at least keep the foxes at bay.

    In other words, the Democrats and Republicans constitute a political cartel and so long as there is no viable third (or fourth etc.) party to offset with competing interests and ideas, there is no need for Democrats or Republicans to allow much less offer any fundamental reforms either internally or to our government as a whole.

  13. kindlingman says:

    I am an optimist. I believe that to create a viable third party that a new approach needs to be taken. A political party not based upon an issues oriented program but based upon creating citizen participation in , perhaps, three ways: creating leaders, creating active followers, and creating citizen monitors.
    I look for a certification process in which the party would acknowledge those that have completed its program to be the three citizen types mentioned. A body politic, if you will, to support reasonable (and reasoned) policy.
    Perhaps pie-in-the-sky thinking, but I think that today’s technology permits new methods (old wine in new bottle?), not previously utilized, to create a new type of statewide political party.
    Just my thoughts at the moment, nothing concrete.
    I do not wish to change any party policy, I wish to advocate more reasoned citizen government and less party policies.

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