02 October 2011


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Bill H.

That's all very well, but it doesn't eliminate the organizations which are not directly connected to politicians but which mount advertising campaigns in their behalf. The real problem is not the money, it is the other "perks and power" which come with the job, such as but not limited to becoming corporate officers themselves, which create career politicans. Term limits may not be the answer either, but some method whereby legislators serve one or two terms and then quit, is a better solution to the problem.


Bill H

How about both? pl


"Term limits may not be the answer either, but some method whereby legislators serve one or two terms and then quit, is a better solution to the problem."

Self imposed term limits would never work...

6 terms for a Congressman and Two terms for a Senator... If you can't help fix the problems in that time frame you really, really need to get out...Forget quitting....

Jim Laird

Not sure it makes sense. If the issues is that money corrupts the process, then preventing more money from entering the process is a good thing if and only if money isn't in the process to begin with. In particular, this amendment would mean that you could be rich and devote your own resources to your campaign - and therefore anyone who is rich automatically gets a leg up over the rest of the field. Further, how do you get rich? I suppose hard work is one way, but the cynic in me thinks that you would do your fundraising beforehand, then run.

Nice idea, but so full of holes as to be unworkable - and probably would end up with the opposite result (i.e. money still comes into the system, but covertly).


Regarding the holiday for voting, Australia solved the problem of voter caging, etc. by making voting compulsory and by convention, all elections are held on Saturdays.

What that really means is that attendance at a polling booth some time on election day is compulsory. That means that:

(a) An efficient nationwide system of polling booths is required to be maintained, but more importantly;

(b) Any attempt to dissuade, trick, prevent or otherwise hamper anyone from discharging their duty to vote is illegal.

(c) Any attempt to manipulate voters by publishing something that is manifestly untrue as a matter of settled fact is also illegal, for example false "how to vote" cards, testimonials from the man - boy love association etc.

Our elections are not as entertaining as American ones.

Hank Foresman

I am in sympathy with the desire to end the pervasive influence of money.
Part of the problem is the current Supreme Court is inclined to permit corporations to have the rights of individuals (see Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), a concept which they assert is enshrined in prior Supreme Court decisions. The fact is this is a fiction, the Supreme Court did not decide in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad that corporations enjoyed rights of citizenship, rather the reporter of the case included such a conclusion in the headnote to the United States Reports. In fact the court did not reach such a decision. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern_Pacific_Railroad)
Regarding term limits I am very suspicious of their utility. Two former supporters of term limits, George Voinovich former Governor of Ohio and Senator from Ohio and Tommy Thompson former Governor of Wisconsin now believe that term limits are not a cure; and in fact serve to deny legislative government the expertise that comes with longevity. This does not mean that every legislator should be allowed unlimited terms, and if we address the real problem the creation of safe districts through gerrymandering, we will make elections more competitive.
As it stands now we create safe districts where the representative need only appeal to his base in order to get elected--this is why Nancy Pelosi has never faced a serious challenge; nor will Paul Broun ever face a serious challenge from a moderate democrat.
While California has given us some very strange idea of progressive government over the years; through voter initiative the power to redistrict both state and congressional districts was taken from the legislator and placed in the hands of a bipartisan redistricting commission. California in 2010 was considered to have the least competitive Congressional districts in the United States; in 2012 it will have the most competitive Congressional races in the United States. The upshot of this is Representatives both democratic and republican will have to respect the views of all their constituents in order to get elected.
What is clear, regardless of the solution, is something must be done. I am reminded of Franklin’s remark, which I will paraphrase, “A republic if we can maintain it.”


one such method to limit terms might be to vote them out.


If you merely "get the money out" you are asking for public financing/regulation of the election process.

Rather, modify the draft in the following way: "no candidate for federal office may accept contributions from any source other than a natural person eligible to vote for the candidate. All contributions and expenditures are to be transparent to the public. No unexpended funds shall be retained by any candidate. Unexpended funds shall be donated to charitable organization or organizations identified by the candidate at the time of declaration of candidacy."

Won't solve the problem of corporate control of State level elections, where the pros get on the gravy train, but it would be a start.


Compulsory voting would do it -- along with neighborhood "Political Morale Committees" to motivate and enforce.


As many have noted, the devil is in the details with this amendment, but on the whole it seems an excellent place to start.

Nancy K

I don't think the Republican party wants everyone to get out and vote. A voting population is something to be feared by both parties actually. It seems with all the voter limiting practices that are garnering support in states ie making a government ID such as passport or drivers license a requirement to vote, many of the poor and elderly who do not have such ID will be unable to vote.


Seems simple enough to me.
If money is the equivalent of free speech, then obviously the ultra wealthy can say a lot. But who controls the media, big business, and 'our' government anyway?

William R. Cumming

PL! Note that no corporation in the USA except certain federally chartered corporations like the ARC [American Red Cross] actually have a federal charter. Each of the 50 states charters corporations and fails largely to regulate that business organizational form. Corporate income taxes actually raise quite little in federal taxes but they also give key insights into corporate operations. The disclosure of federal corporate tax returns of course is prohibited by federal law although there is limited disclosure by nonprofit corporations. And of course the SEC does in fact regulate markets but not directly the corporations except for disclosure.
So while I think your language might be effective I would consider a shorter version much like the 1947 McCarran-
Ferguson Act concerning the business of insurance. That Act states in part that the federal government shall not regulate the business of insurance to the extent the states regulate the business of insurance. The same could be true for profit making corporations. Thus you might well have regulatory competition. I doubt it but possible. But I would add a new limitation and state that whether a corporation is treated as a person [and actually this is what the law is in fact although SCOTUS ignored it]shall be the subject of state law. And no state shall allow out of state persons or corporations to make political contributions to elections occurring within that state. Out of state corporate funding of elections is not just a federal issue but distorting state politics also.

And finally of course regulation of voting for federal officials should be regulated exclusively by the federal government. Vote fraud and packing of ballots is the real tradition in the USA not one man one vote. GOOD LUCK!

Mark Logan

Bill, there isn't anything that can ever be done about individuals speaking for or against a politician, and running their own "campaigns". I can't think of a way to stop that without limiting free speech in a horribly unacceptable way. That would be asking for too much.

Let's not let the perfect block out the good. Friz Hollings wrote a book some time ago, 'Making Government Work" or something like that. Read it some time ago, and found it wonderfully educational. Here's his thoughts about the nuts and bolts of how limiting campaign spending could be a very good thing from an article.


Even a more limited amendment that only allowed congress the right to limit their campaign spending might well do a heck of lot of good. The constant fund-raising is a PITA to most of them.

I would add an amendment for mandatory voting as well. Like the Aussies have. Decreasing the emphasis on ginning up people with silly wedge issues so they show up, and that reduces the need for these nearly perpetual campaign seasons that are being inflicted upon us.

Buzz Meeks

Also, withdraw your monies from the too-big-to-fail banks and go with one of your local credit unions or a responsible local bank. Perhaps it is time for the states to start looking at the state bank concept to as a cost cutting solution. Starve the beast any way you can.

Bill H.

Well, yes, there is that. I have, in fact, been advocating that for decades, but we never seem to do it.

Bill H.

I would certainly not oppose term limits, but questions have been raised about the constitiounality.


Many European nations publicly fund political campaigns and restrict campaigning to a defined period before elections. I lived in Europe for quite a while and found this a sensible system. In Holland, for example, the media must give parties a defined amount of air time (or space in the case of print) to promote their policies. The amount of time is set according party size, that is, the number of seats in the parliament. So there are A, B, C, and D groupings. the D group is for new parties that have no seats yet. The same is true for local elections.

Of course, the U.S. does not have a parliamentary system, but the advantages of public funding, restricted campaigning, and "free" media use are obvious. At least they are to me. Japan, where I now live, has a parliamentary system, but like the U.S., is utterly corrupted by money politics. Col. Lang is right. The money has to be gotten out somehow. And this idea of treating corporations as human beings or citizens is simply insane.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Mark! Hollings was an interesting man as is Lindsey Graham! Hollings came within one vote of adding the Attorney General to the statutory membership of the the NSC thereby restoring the rule of law. Of course it failed. So thereby leaving the National Security State to design its own Constitution. Walter Dellinger had interesting WAPO article on drone strike issues in the last few days.


While I agree with the sentiment, the devil is in the details. Money is fungible and while it is easy to prevent direct cash payments to candidates there's many ways around that kind of restriction. Consider, for example, the wage controls implemented during WWII by FDR. With much of the workforce in the military, employers were desperate for workers, but they could not offer higher wages to attract new employees. So they ended up offering fringe benefits instead. This is actually how our system of employer-provided health care got its start.

Similarly, restricting campaign money would likely have a similar effect as "contributions" move to non-cash and intangible benefits. How would such activities be policed? Can we create a politically independent bureaucracy that could fairly police such a system and arbitrate disputes? I'm very doubtful that is possible - the rich and powerful have a proven track record of capturing regulatory bodies which they then use to entrench their own positions at the expense of everyone else.

In short, I'm skeptical this would actually work as intended.


Rjj, I obviously haven't made myself clear. The purpose of the Australian law is not to compel voting, it is to prevent the development of the corrupt and deceitful American practices of trying to prevent others from voting. You are perfectly free in Australia to cast an informal ballot or no ballot at all, but it is illegal to try to prevent you from either registering to vote, or exercising your right to vote. The entire voting system is administered by an impartially managed commission.

I much prefer watching American elections. The duplicity, unfairness and dirty tricks are so very entertaining.

Mark Gaughan

Excellent idea!




Does Australia have state-of-the-aaaht easy-to-rig impossible-to-audit electronic voting?


priorities ... think probably the vote counting problem should be solved before demanding an official declaration of "War on [political] Turpitude."

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