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Money is Choking the Republic

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

In every national election, a tsunami of cash smothers the country, and the legacy spark of the republic is dying. Will we accept this dire state of affairs or will we come together and save the republic?

Election Reform vs “Free Speech”

The Republic

Freedom of religion was the strong motivation that drove our early settlers to our shores. The Puritans that sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 had been persecuted by the English Crown and were forced to flee to Holland in the night. But the Crown persisted and compelled the Dutch people to withdraw their sanctuary; the Puritans fled once again, this time to the new world. So with this history, it is small wonder that the government ultimately chosen by the people for this new land was a democracy, and its Constitution is duly populated with provisions for personal freedoms.

The city-states of ancient Greece demonstrated that direct democracy for a large population does not work, but the republic of Rome that followed showed promise. So that was the format the founders adopted, and in it the citizenry votes in elections to choose the proxies that will represent them in the workings of the government: they elect 535 proxies (100 in the Senate for six-year terms and 435 in the House of Representatives for

four-year terms).

From this we can see how important our elections are . . . they are in fact the essential linchpins of the republic, and voting in them is perhaps the most critical political action taken by a citizen. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with or corrupt these elections.

A Conflict of Rights Resolved

The purpose of these elections is to give the citizen an opportunity to take the full measure of each candidate and assess their world-view, integrity, and interpersonal skills to determine which candidate will best represent them in this important work. Naturally, the citizenry of an election district would try to minimize actions by any outsider that will interfere with their ability to properly evaluate and assess the candidates. (For a congressman, the election district is the Congressional District; for a Senator or the Electoral College, it is the state.)

But today there are groups with deep pockets outside an election district that use their money (billions of dollars in every election) to influence the voting of its citizens. And they of course do it to advance the group’s political agenda, without concern for the natural preferences or interests of the voters of that district. In a few decisions, the Supreme Court has supported these intrusions by treating the financial contributions of the groups as an expression of free speech. And that, we know, is protected by the First Amendment.

But the Act 2 Campaign Finance Reform Amendment identifies and codifies the right of the voters in an election district to the quiet enjoyment of their election campaigns without interference from outside parties, and it gives precedence to this right of voters over the special case that treats contributions as free speech. The amendment acknowledges the critical importance of elections that will choose our proxies to run the national government, and so justifies granting it priority over the judicially-created form of free speech. This amendment will be earth-shaking.

Other Considerations

Personal Services Contract

In a republic, elected officials make a solemn pledge to faithfully perform the duties of their new office. In doing so, they are entering into a personal services contract with their constituents, and no individual (or group) that is not a party to that contract should have “legal standing” to participate in the election or the subsequent actions of the official while conducting governmental business.

The Systemic Corruption of Washington

The “systemic corruption of Washington” is a phrase often used to characterize the use of money in federal election campaigns and lobbying in Washington. Clearly, money buys access to legislative and regulatory proceedings and offers the opportunity to influence them to serve the special interests of large donors to election campaigns and lobbyiMoneng programs. This amendment will eliminate the source of much of that corruption during elections.

Adverse Selection Process for Candidates

The power of money in our elections has grave consequences. Two of the most pernicious are:

  • For candidates, it places a high premium on the ability to raise money from large donors across the country rather than on the skills that would produce good governance after the election.

  • The prospect of spending so much time raising money discourages many capable people from seeking public office.

The result is an adverse selection process that works against our objective of attracting qualified applicants to public service.

Fund Raising Burden

Because of the pervasive influence of money on elections, our federal officials must spend an inordinate amount of time raising funds for their next election in order to wage a competitive campaign. It is widely recognized that candidates and elected officials must spend more than 50% of their working time on fundraising on a continuous basis. This time requirement clearly impairs the effectiveness of the elected official in discharging his or her constitutional responsibilities while in office, and it bears significant responsibility for the current dysfunction of Congress.

The Libertarian View

Many libertarians claim that we all have a fundamental human right to live our lives as we choose so long as we do not infringe on the equal rights of others (emphasis added). We believe that election campaign contributions from outside an election district do in fact infringe on the equal rights of the residents of that district.

Frank Keeney

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