Over the years Congress has become progressively unable to resolve crucial issues and votes increasingly more for special interests over what best benefits the people. The failure of the watered down gun control law to pass is an example of special interest groups influencing Congress to control Congressional votes, in this case the NRA was able to influence key Congressional votes against the legislation even though polls indicated that 90% of the population and 75% of NRA members favored this bill. Our Founding Fathers intended that Congress be a government of and for the people and to pass law that benefited the people. Congress is clearly not doing the will of the people.
A few congressional leaders seem to control member’s votes along party lines instead of representing their constituents. This power is usually exercised through monetary contributions that feed into our Representative’s desires for reelection. When a Congress member looks ahead to the next election, their decisions becomes motivated by their wish to stay in office. This often results in pandering to passionate voter blocks, lucrative donors, and party allegiance to ensure essential donations, necessary endorsements, and key votes and support.
Our representatives have lost sight of doing the job and have become more concerned about preparing for the next campaign. So we need to remove private funding from the election process so that our representatives will be less influenced by special interest campaign money and making it more fair between opposing candidates.
How can this be done? Perhaps a special government regulated Election Campaign Pool could be set up to finance elections. For example all Presidential candidates would have the same amount of money available but Presidential candidates would have a greater amount of campaign funds available than a Senate candidate who would in turn have more campaign funds available than a Congressional House candidate. Thus each candidate would have the same amount of money to spend on their campaign as their opponent. It is true that it cost more to run a campaign in some districts or states than others but even more inequity exists under the current system. Some system for determining the appropriate funds to allocate to each level of candidates can be established that also regulates and monitor campaigns to ensure that they are properly run according to established rules.
All sources of outside money would be prohibited to eliminate influences from special interests. PACs would not be allowed. Candidates would be forbidden from using any of their own personal wealth for their campaign. All campaign money would come directly from the fund. No more donated facilities, services, events, etc. All Campaign expenses are paid for at its fair value directly from the Campaign Funds and each dollar spent documented and traceable.
This Election Campaign Pool can be funded in a number of ways. For example, tax money could be allocated to this pool just like any other budget item. Or people could make a tax deductible contribution to this pool each year. Or a fixed monetary amount could be checked on your tax return indicating that, for example, you would like to put $10 into the pool by the government. Or some other method could be employed.
All the above examples eliminate the wasted time and money spent on fundraising and help level the playing field by remove candidate’s need for campaign contributions from well endowed special interest groups and individuals.
Keep campaigns simple and efficient so that our elected representative can properly represent the people again and elections can focus upon candidates and issues. Candidates already in office will have more time to do their job instead of fundraising so much. This keeps corporate money out of campaigns and limits insane campaign expenses. Elections should be about electing the Candidate that best represents you not about who can raise the most money to run the biggest campaign.
Currently incumbents have all kinds of advantages over their opponents – experience, a party to help finance and endorse their campaign, prior wealthy donors and contacts to get contributions from, special interests that they did favors for to support them, and their voting records in office. Under this campaign reform the only advantage they have is their voting record. Since there is no longer such strong party influences, good third party candidates would have a fair chance at being elected making this a far more representative and perhaps functional government.
What chance do we have for such sweeping elections reform? Little to none. Congress was originally established to help ensure that laws get passed that represent the will of the people. Something in that original intent has been corrupted. We need to restore the system to the vision of our founding fathers. But it seems more apparent than ever that it is quickly becoming necessary to change the status quot.