I'm not an American. This whole story just sounds so fucked up.
- Your politicians need money to to get elected. That is the same as saying they can translate money into votes. You don't think you can fix this fundamental problem, so you just try to forbid them from actually spending money on their campaigns. (Maximum donation size and all that.)
- Mayday.us thinks they have a better chance of convincing people to pay for their candidates, than they do of just convincing people to vote for those candidates.
- Despite formulating this as a contest of money, they think they can out-bid the big corporations they say are invested in the status quo. Or do they think there won't be a concerted effort and funding for opposing candidates?
- They propose distributing vouchers to voters, who can then give them to candidates, who then get funded by the government in proportion to the amount of vouchers they got. (Simplifying a bit here.) Why should people vote with vouchers rather than with, you know, votes? If candidates must rely on vouchers from existing supporters, isn't that just a bias against newcomers who start out with no supporters?
- In the age of the Internet, a candidate can reach all voters easily and powerfully. Why do they need campaign funding beyond the amount needed to let the candidate and a small staff not work for a paycheck during election season?
There are so many things that need clearing up in these questions that I don't even know where to begin. I will agree with you that it's fucked up. But the way you've broken it down is off.
- We can fix this fundamental problem by stanching the flow of money into campaigns from corporatists.
- They are trying to fund campaign-finance-reform candidates to go up against non-campaign-finance-reform candidates and elected officials to change the laws on campaign finance. It's the best we've got right now.
- With targeted funding of sympathetic candidates, they are trying to initiate a groundswell of support for campaign finance reform. Again, it's the best we've got right now.
- I'm still on the fence about this. I want us to get through #'s 1 through 3 first.
- TV, my friend. Nowhere else in the world do candidates spend so much on advertising. I have asked around and the attack ads you see on TV in the USA are virtually unique. I have heard this kind of thing doesn't happen in Europe or Australia. Canada and Mexico have them, on a totally different, smaller scale. The USA is unique on what campaign $$ are spent on. Notice that I have not even MENTIONED PACs until just now. Most of the attacks happen through PACs and SuperPACs, not even directly affiliated with the candidate's campaign, but loosely through party. And we have only two viable parties. To be a candidate who gets elected, you have to first be a member of that party, and they will then have members who back you with attack ads on the other party. Of all the fucked up things, this is the most fucked up.
Quick, can you think of a way to control this unregulated PAC of wild dogs tearing every candidate to shreds?
@awjt, thanks for explaining.
- That's just what I'm saying is fucked up: you can't fix the fundamental fact that money buys votes. You just want to make it illegal or impossible to spend that money. I can't help but feel that so long as this remains true, politics won't be sane - but certainly stopping the money flow could be a big improvement, I'm not arguing against that.
- I understand that. I just find it sad that the Mayday.us campaign can rely on lots of people donating a little money to get pro-reform candidates elected; but they can't skip the money and just rely on lots of people voting for pro-reform candidates and electing them. I'm not saying they're wrong. It's just sad that this is the case.
- I'm not saying they shouldn't try, but I honestly don't understand how they expect to win if it comes down to a head-to-head contest of money.
- I haven't seen any of these ads (not an American!) and for that I can only be thankful.
It would be more understandable if candidates had to spend money on positive campaigning, promising things to people and keeping in touch and so on. But if the most effective way to get elected is running attack ads, then even if you outlaw campaign donations entirely, the candidate who wins will still be the one whose friends / supporters / party are better at attacking and smearing his opponent. They'll just do it for free, as fake "grassroots" Internet commenting campaigns and whatnot.
It gives me a new perspective on why an American invented the phrase "politics is the mind-killer"...
Anyway, good luck in your struggle, I guess.
I just made a small pledge to donate whether they reach the goal or not. Thank you for the heads up. It would not have happened otherwise.
That's coming. We don't have those candidates now, not real ones who get elected. They all eventually get bought, one way or another. It's a chicken-and-egg problem. So we have to first buy some effective candidates (by giving them an alternative way of being funded rather than corporatists) to pave the way for candidates later on who simply stand up to do the right thing, get noticed, get elected, make the changes.
I think what Lessig is planning is a new style of ad campaign that moves past the attack ad developmental phase that we seem to be stuck in. The money isn't just to buy attack ads for reformers to defeat opponents. It's to change the way campaigns are run with new styles of ads and reaching out to people, holding candidates accountable after election, removing some of the burden of their incessant fundraising. Generally changing the demeanor of how an elected official behaves. That's the hope. We aren't there yet. This is just the first step in a long chain of stuff that has to happen piece by piece.
I hate our political system. It's so corrupt. It's not the worst, because a lot of it is out in the open. But in another sense, with the way much of the corruption is out in the open is like living in a garbage dump with stinky stuff everywhere. It's nasty.
The last presidential race moved $2.6 billion.
The last senatorial race moved $3.6 billion.
I am really not understanding what $12 million will do other than legitimize those numbers...
danarmak, I realize this response could sound snarky, though it's not meant that way. Lessig is an incredibly smart guy, working in an area where he has a decent amount of experience, and even more politically savvy individuals to draw upon. If you want more insight to how he sees the problem, and what he aims to do about it, I suggest you check out his TED talk. (You get the central problem in the first minute and a half.)
I too agree that our political situation is totally fucked up. Listening to what Lessig had to say about it gave me the first glimmer of hope I've felt in years that something might actually change in Washington, that we little people might actually wrest our country back from big money. It's only a hope, but I'll take it.
Bingo. Lessig is taking the very high road in doing this. The only way to win is to fight with the same tools. Then, when we have won we will have earned the right to change the rules back to what they should have been all along. I say Lessig is taking the high road because the alternative is to wait until things get bad enough to give people the excuse for violence. I would rather we didn't go that way.
Lessig is providing a chance to actually do something about the system. Gutless resignation will not get us to a better future. Only action will.
Thanks for the reminder - donated!
Naysayers: This will never work anyway, there's no way in hell they'll ever get FIVE million dollars in the first...
Thank you for helping us to reach our goal!
Naysayers: Oh, I guess I need to just shut the fuck up then.
To all those naysayer who said it couldn't be done. Where are you? It's very curious how you never seem to muster the energy to apologize or at least admit error after the dust settles, yet you always have the energy to naysay in the first place. Very curious, indeed.
And, to those that didn't listen to the naysayers and supported mayday.us, THANK YOU.
Yeah! Nicely put, side-of-cow! I hope you kicked in a little extra. I ended up pushing another $10 to mayday today to help towards the goal, for a grand total of $20. I think it'll be money well spent.
Remember, the only vote that matters is a well-funded one. Please spend wisely.
Good on yers for hitting your target.
If I were an American, I'd have kicked in a few bucks myself. This coming from someone who is profoundly apolitical by circumstance and fluffy, cuddly anarchist by nature, so I treat politics as a cross between a spectator sport and a freakshow.
I think it's a longshot. But, WTF, I've bet money on way longer odds and I'm sure I'd have got far more satisfaction on this than on a lousy hand of poker playing against someone named after a city.
Happy 4th y'all.
Hope this is the first step on getting your country back.
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