The reason that we have three branches of government is to ensure balance of power. But it doesn’t always work. Like when the senate kills campaign finance reform … again. Why would someone who benefits from keeping things the way they are want to change things for the worse? They wouldn’t! And that’s why the senate will never pass a law to reform campaign financing that allows them to raise large sums from special interest groups and go on their merry way.
Let’s face it. It’s a huge conflict of interest for them. And if it’s a conflict of interest, then someone else needs to be making the decision. It reminds me how we give congress the right to raise it’s own pay. I should be so lucky!
Meanwhile, we get people like the President sitting around disparaging the Senate for doing what no one expects it to do in the first place: “It leaves unchecked the influence of moneyed special interests”, Clinton said. And he should know, he’s been as much the recipient of money from special interests as anyone else. “The people of this country want reform and the Senate cannot stand in their way forever”, he went on to say. Oh yeah? Just watch them.
Was anyone really surprised by the vote? After all, campaign financing reform has been an issue since 1987. This year, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) bragged: “There is no momentum whatsoever for this kind of measure” as he noted that more senators voted this year to kill the reform than in nineteen previous votes in the past 12 years. Hooray for the Senate!
Here’s what I would do to stop all this nonsense. Immediately ban fundraising completely. No candidate shall be allowed to roam the country, shaking hands, kissing babies, telling lies and making false promises. Force the television and radio networks to provide free air time for all viable candidates. All candidates shall be given equal time in the form of informative commercials. All candidates must participate in regularly scheduled single-issue debates that are then carried simultaneously on all networks which would force the citizenry to listen up. Newspapers must then publish the text of the debates in their entirety for those who missed the televised version.
We will never again have to watch a candidate wearing a stupid hat or munching an oversized hot dog. We will never again have to listen to a candidate tell funny stories to a bunch of hicks in some God-forsaken township in the middle of bloody nowhere or watch a candidate campaign in front of five year-olds at a daycare center.
If he/she is going to impress us, let it be with the truth and with common sense and with issues and laws that really matter. (original post Oct. 24, 1999)