America for sale: 38% of all election funding comes from 0.0001% of Americans (2,210 people account for 25% of the total)


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/05/finance-property-fossils-healt.html


#2

I think the framers of our Constitution would agree that these people are entitled to play a bigger role in the running of the country, by virtue of their wealth.

I mean I really do think that. It was elitist white dudes then, and it still is now.


#3

Well, at least they’re paying for something


#4

Campaign finance reform has zero chance of happening with the GOP in charge. The chances may be miniscule with the Dems, but they’re more than zero. Vote!


#5

But how do we fight all that money and influence? How do you take a boring abstract issue like campaign finance reform, and get it into the public consciousness the same way that civil rights and marriage equality? The stereotype of the slimy politician is well know, but how do we convince people that there is an answer to the problem? There are people who don’t vote for that reason “it doesn’t make a difference”, “both candidates are crap”, etc.

Money an influence is even present in small time local elections. In my local county council primary, the incumbent kept his seat thanks to large donations from big property developers. Part of this councilman’s job will be to vote on development plans presented to the council by the same people who donated to him. My councilman is not a public servant, he’s just a fear-uncertainty-doubt politician serving his own ego.

Is there a way to disincentive people from seeking office just to serve themselves? Maybe if we make the job harder, less people will want it. For example, remember in algebra class when you couldn’t just write “6”, your teacher made you show your work. I want my employees to show me their work. I want them to write essays on why they voted a particular way. Can we trend #showmeyourwork ? I’ve been at council meeting, and some of these councilmen don’t even bring a notepad. When was the last time you went to a business meeting without pen and paper?

Another idea I had was, don’t just grassroots campaign during campaign season. I canvased a few times with my councilman’s primary challenger. One thing I kept hearing from citizens was “thank you for coming, I never hear from your opponent.”. Be more persistent than the religious solicitors that door-to-door.


#6

Generations older in many cases.


#7

I’m sure they prefer to think of it as an investment. Hefty political donations to elected officials do seem to offer an astonishing return on investment: chuck a few tens of thousands at a handful of congresspeople and get back a bespoke law that allows you to make a couple of hundred million, or shelter a giant chunk of your earnings or estate from tax.

They’re not so much paying as buying, and at fire-sale prices.


#8

Oh, no need for anything as chancy as that!

If you’re on the deluxe plan, you get a pet “think tank” to draft the law, and then take it to ALEC or State Policy Network, and they pass it to state and national politicians, who can pass it off as their own work. (I’m sure everyone knows the score when some house bobblehead drops a thick well-crafted bill on the table.)


#9

This election may be a good test of the power of money in elections; Democrats are spending significantly more than Republicans.


#10

I’m not sure that those numbers are tracking all the PAC dark money. Hopefully they’re spending it well, and not just throwing it at TV ad slots.


#11

The ol’ fashioned way, of course!


#12

While Libertarian and conservative business geniuses tend to ignore concepts like “source of funds”, it can be broken down to a degree. In House races, the ratio of individual:PAC donations is approx. 4:1 for the Dems and 1:1 for the GOP. In the Senate, the ratio is approx. 8:1 for the Dems and 4:1 for the GOP. [source]

Now of course, as the article indicates, a good portion of the individual donations are from wealthy people hedging their bets, and not all PACs are pro-corporate dark-money ones trying to undermine liberal democratic institutions. However, if a party is more prone overall to taking money from PACS that’s generally viewed as a bad thing by people who are actually concerned about the distorting power of money in elections instead of trying to score a cheap both-sides-are-exactly-the-same “gotcha”.

Really, there’s not much to be tested about the power of money; conservatives and Libertarians didn’t put all that time and effort into pushing Citizens United for nothing. The real question about the larger Dem spending in this election is whether it will be enough to push some sense into the bubble of insanity, complacency and ignorance of any voter who’d consider voting for a Republican enabler of this horrific regime.


#13

Exactly. My older friends and family will almost invariably vote for the candidate whose people showed up on their doorstep with a nice haircut and clean clothes, speaking politely and grammatically. It’s not a high bar, but it is a serious investment in hours and shoeleather.


#14

In a recent local race, the wife of a deputy mayor candidate came around. The other guy had a leaflet that was all about how awful the first guy was and absolutely nothing about himself.


#15

And with the SCOTUS as it is now, this is not going to change soon.


#16

For all that Jefferson was a wealthy white dude, he would have flipped his curly white lid about this. 0.0001% of America at the time of the framing of the constitution was 250 people!


#17

This puts an interesting spin on the old “no taxation without representation!” catch-call: these folks are buying representation so they don’t have to ‘suffer’ taxation, changing the call to “No taxation with representation!”, leaving the rest of the population in the position where they have no (effective) representation so they get taxed - either directly, or in kind through reduced and eliminated services - to make up the difference.


#18

I don’t know about Jefferson, but Madison explicitly endorsed plutocracy.

In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.

James Madison, Statement (1787-06-26) as quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787 by Robert Yates

Or see here:

QUESTION: Do you see much evidence of a revolutionary spirit in the America of the 1990s?

CHOMSKY: You didn’t find evidence of it in the America of the 1790s. The Revolutionary War was an important event. But it was in the first place, to a significant extent, a civil war, as most revolutionary wars are. And it was a war of independence, as opposed to a revolution against the social structure. The social structure didn’t really change significantly. There were problems right after the war was done. For example, Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion and so on were challenging the social structure, and there were efforts on the part of radical farmers to take seriously the meaning of the words in the revolutionary pamphlets, but that was pretty well quieted down.

If you go back to the record of the Constitutional Convention, which took place in 1787, almost immediately after the end of the war, you see that they are already moving in another direction. James Madison – who was the main framer, and one of the Founding Fathers who was most libertarian – makes it very clear that the new constitutional system must be designed so as to ensure that the government will, in his words, “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority” and bar the way to anything like agrarian reform. The determination was made that America could not allow functioning democracy, since people would use their political power to attack the wealth of the minority of the opulent. Therefore, Madison argues, the country should be placed in the hands of the wealthier set of men, as he put it.

QUESTION: Isn’t that erection of barriers to democracy woven through the entire history of the United States?

CHOMSKY: It goes back to the writing of the Constitution. They were pretty explicit. Madison saw a “danger” in democracy that was quite real and he responded to it. In fact, the“problem” was noticed a long time earlier. It’s clear in Aristotle’s “Politics,” the sort of founding book of political theory – which is a very careful and thoughtful analysis of the notion of democracy. Aristotle recognizes that, for him, that democracy had to be a welfare state; it had to use public revenues to ensure lasting prosperity for all and to ensure equality. That goes right through the Enlightenment. Madison recognized that, if the overwhelming majority is poor, and if the democracy is a functioning one, then they’ll use their electoral power to serve their own interest rather than the common good of all. Aristotle’s solution was, “OK, eliminate poverty.” Madison faced the same problem but his solution was the opposite: “Eliminate democracy.”

image


#19

And fortunately, people and shoeleather is one area in which the left has the advantage.

:musical_note: They got the TV, we got the truth
They own the judges and we got the proof
We got hella people, they got helicopters
They got the bombs and we got the, we got the… :musical_note:


#20

Encourage donations from other sources. The folks paying are the ones claiming ownership and control. Here’s a bit from PolitiFact on Obama’s donations:

In the general election, Obama got about 34 percent of his individual donations from small donors, people who gave $200 or less, according to a report from the Campaign Finance Institute. Another 23 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and another 42 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.