A Baltimore Sun Column by Michael Barnes and Connie Morella, respectively a Democrat and a Republican, and former members of Congress, calls for Public Funding of campaigns to end the “stranglehold” of corporate, union, and institutional money on the election process, and on Congress.
Barnes and Morella are toting a bill called the Fair Elections Now Act, which would replace the evil “special interest” funding with small donations (undefined) from constituents, with matching Federal funds-paid for by a tax on large government contracts-another tax!
Right now politicians have the best of all political worlds; virtually unlimited campaign fund-raising ability, with funds provided by direct campaign contributions, unlimited funds spent on “issue” campaigning by special interest PAC’s, unions, and corporations, and non-profits (all possible because of the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, which in effect offers that corporations, small business, institutions-all have additional “Citizenship” rights to their Free Speech on issues, if not directly on the election campaigns of politicians.
Anyone who thinks that the new definition of a “citizen” is not harmful to American representative government is not looking at the long-term ramifications. Let’s consider that corporations are an artificial “construct” of law, originally intended and grown from the pooling of liability between partners, then shareholders/investors to shield them against unlimited liability and risk, and has become a significant part of the history of capitalism. Incorporation has many advantages in the modern world of global trading and commerce, including the unique ability to aggregate investor capital and allow business to expand.
But, corporations in the modern sense didn’t even exist until the early 1800’s, and didn’t become widely established in America and then other capitalist societies until the late 1800’s.
Why the brief history? Because, with the Supreme Court decision freeing contribution by corporations, unions, and institutions, non-profits, virtually any kind of association or organization, to “issues and causes not directly claimed, sponsored, or affiliated with or by candidates” (my interpretation), a new class of Citizenship Rights has been conferred on to those artificial constructs not previously allowed them, or allowed in limited circumstances. (What’s next? Corporations, Unions and other”constructs” running for office? “Elect Microsoft as your Senator from Washington. The SEIU (union) is your candidate for Congress , Elect Greenpeace for President”).
Don’t laugh! Strange things are happening. In one swoop, we just created another 23-25 million “Citizens” ( 23-25 millions small businesses) to fund elections and candidates-and maybe run for office in the future.
So, “evil” special interests financing of candidates and issues would be replaced with the legislation under way, with up to 180 co-sponsors to date, with yet another tax used for government funding of election campaigns.
Liberals feel that the positives of more campaign contributions (Citizens United and FEC Advisory-No limits on Independent donations ) outweigh the negatives by far. But others worry that freeing all these organizations, businesses and institutions, liberal and non-profits, for unlimited donations to “issue and cause” independent campaigns and advertising can only lead to trouble, and a windfall for the media. (Google, the nation’s largest Internet advertiser, is exploring ways to tie issues to search results-or, if they and others are not, they are missing a huge opportunity.
This trend may be a way for Liberals to retake the advantage they have come to expect.
The problem is that neither is right; neither is correct in the law or the consequences..
All this scheming and manipulation for advantage wouldn’t be necessary if there was more responsiveness from elected officials to the concerns of American and the vision of America that the Founders cared about; Personal Responsibility and free-market opportunity-your risk, your reward.
America is polarized by competing ideologies within a system that progressively weakens the concept of States Rights through government claiming more and more regulatory “territory,” and disincentives to investment, entrepreneurship and capitalism.
We are progressively weakening the spirit of the founding of America-free enterprise, personal responsibility, and opportunistic risk-taking.
The free spirit tradition of America is being replaced with creeping, progressive “Socialism” that supports, in ever greater degrees, creating more poor and minority populations on one hand, and redistributing through social programs the accumulated wealth of generations of America’s capitalist traditions and success.
“Robin Hooding” the entrepreneur and investor to support socialist programs is a sure guarantee of the demise of America; we’re not that far away from the tipping point, either.
As always, it is necessary to point out there there wouldn’t be rich or successful or a middle class without the free market system based on personal achievement through risk-taking and personal responsibility. Unfortunately, the numbers of entrepreneurs seem to be declining, while the numbers of people “feeding” off the system are increasing more rapidly. (Over 40% of the U.S. households and people pay no taxes at all, none, Nada, leaving just over 50% to support the programs considered so necessary).
Liberals and Socialists get tongue-tied when trying to explain and justify just how you can continue to benefit from a system which rewards a lack of motivation, education and no sense of personal responsibility, while at the same time bleeding us to death with taxes, policies, regulations, mandates and mis-allocation of capital resources, so currently in evidence.
The potential solution?
Ask every American to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution prior to the next, in fact prior to every, election. Most will surely feel constrained to “cry out” in favor of issues and candidates that offer hope of restoring the vision of America and it’s founders: personal freedom-to live, to achieve or fail; to pursue a dream as individual to each of us as our fingerprints, but each dream needs a nurturing environment to have a chance.
We’re losing that opportunity, it appears, ever more rapidly.