Walk across New Hampshire with Larry Lessig and friends to fight corruption and reform campaign finance


Goddamn it. I would easily join to walk the whole fucking way if they moved it back by a week. I’m still trying to work out some way to do this.

ETA: Also, not much about logistics. Are we camping every night?

This seems mildly shady. There’s very little information about the group save a bunch of John McCain quotes, and the name “New Hampshire Rebellion” does not do much to assuage my doubts. New Hampshire has its own microcosm of strange (and often frightening) politics; as a New Hampshirite one quickly learns to be suspicious of these groups that pop up with populist-sounding names. Take a look at our House’s recent legislative history and you’ll understand why we have reason to be suspicious.

Maybe I’m stirring up suspicion for no reason, but their site really should do more to describe who they are (and who they’re funded by). I believe you guys previously drummed up some support for the Free State Project without–and maybe I’m wrong here–doing your homework. If you did do your homework, it seems the politics of this blog has taken a very, very sharp turn right.

Or, you could take a very, very sharp turn north and visit Canada, where the federal government banned all campaign contributions from corporations AND unions, and capped individual contributions at $1,200 (amount rises for inflation periodically). All 3rd parties (unions, corporations, PAC’s, etc.) are capped at spending (currently) $200,000 per election - and that’s for the whole country. Multiply that by ten for the US, and you cap PAC’s at $2 million - doesn’t buy a whole lot of annoying TV ads, does it? (Note: you get no tax deductions for donating to 3rd party political ads.)

This law was passed by a Canadian Liberal party government, but the ironic result has been that the Liberals, no longer fueled by millions of dollars from big business which they passed protectionist laws for, and the New Democrats (a quasi-socialist party), no longer funded by their union friends, have watched their electoral results founder, as the Conservatives have proven superior at raising funds from individuals, and won two minorities and finally a majority government.

This result is not surprising to those of who believe that both the Liberals and the NDP appeal to the “FSA” - Free S**t Army - voters, who support the parties that promise them the most stuff. Since these folk tend to be takers rather than givers, they tend not to donate. That’s not a ‘sharp turn to the right’; that’s an acknowledgement of reality.

If they’re basing a movement off of what Granny D tried to do, I think they’re going in the right direction. It’s at least a good sentiment, and I don’t see how it could do any harm.

On another note, could you tell me why you’re anti-FSP? Not trying to be contrary; I actually want to know. I’m not a member, nor do I plan to become one, but I’ve never actually heard anything bad about them, except that some of the members are loony.

They are good at raising money from individuals. They’re also really good at overspending illegally, taking illegal donations, illegally moving campaign money in and out of local campaigns, and illegally using robocalls to call people who are unlikely to vote Conservative to illegally tell them that their polling location has changed.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about Canadian politics, but I’m not sure that what you just wrote–specifically, the last paragraph–resembles a response to what I wrote.

There’s a number of reasons I have trouble with the Free State Project, the first of which you touched on: they’re a little bit loony, which is good and fine for bullshitting at a bar but not exactly a reassuring trait for someone seeking office. Further points:
2. The strategy of moving a bunch of politically extreme folks to a low-population state so that their “voices may be heard” (i.e. they may push through political agendas because the preexisting inhabitants are a relatively small group) seems a bit unfair to the folks already there.
3. They’ve already put a handful of really wacky, dangerous representatives in the House. This, along with other far-right fringe groups represented in the House, has lead to one of the most ineffectual and embarrassing legislatures (they’re still stuck on the birther argument) in state history.
4. They’re generally pro-“Pledge” in a time when NH desperately needs to increase revenue (most likely via a sales tax).
5. Attaining the goal of decentralizing government in a state with the regional economic diversity of NH would spell disaster for the poorer regions (the mill towns, the north, etc.), and would make it much easier for widely opposed state-wide projects like Northern Pass to be implemented. I also like trees. Those trees are protected by state-level regulation. And then there’s the schools…
6. Personal correspondence. I know these people. They’re crazy, and not particularly well-informed. I may be repeating myself (and you) a bit here, but it’s a big reason a lot of NH is wary of the FSP.

OK, let me dumb it down for you. You think the blog has taken a turn to the right - whatever that means - because it’s endorsing a group that is trying to reform campaign finance. Because you have no facts - didn’t do your homework? - you rely on that time-honoured tool of the left, innuendo (“who’re they funded by?”, “who (are they)?”) to imply without saying it that the motives of the group are somehow dishonest. If you have some substantive criticism, fine, but you yourself admit that you are “maybe stirring up suspicion for no reason”.

But, as the Canadian example shows, big business AND big labour can be shut out from campaign finance, and we still have elections. And, for the most part, they are pretty clean. (I note that the other commenter who slammed Tory activities conveniently ignored the Liberal’s AdScam debacle, which diverted millions of dollars into Liberal candidate coffers and has not yet been repaid. I’m not naïve enough to believe that political parties don’t play as close to the edge as they can, and sometimes cross over it, but there’s enough mud on both sides that slinging it proves no point.)

And my final point was, should US campaign financing REALLY be reformed (and I agree that it should), don’t be surprised if it’s the right that gains the most, for the reasons I cited. Since you clearly distrust them, your paradoxical choice to keep the left in power is to support the rotten status quo!

Nope. Not going to waste my time.

Huh, I guess that the reason that I don’t usually hear bad things about the FSP is because me and mine tend to agree with them more than with folks like you. Let me try to explain what I mean.

Two comments:

  1. No, that’s not unfair. That’s people exhibiting their perfectly reasonable right to move freely between states as they so choose. As far as I’m concerned, a libertarian moving to New Hampshire because there is a large libertarian population just seems logical.

  2. I reckon that the masses of folks who moved up here from Massachusetts changed the New Hampshire political spectrum in a big way. I think that they’re a large part of the reason why NH turned blue. That seems more unfair to the people who were already here. (Disclaimer: I’m not a Republican; it’s ok with me that the state isn’t red anymore.)

Lawmaking bodies, whether at a federal or state level, are built to limit the laws which are passed to those which would actually be beneficial to a large enough part of the population. If the Senate, or the House, or the Governor (veto power), or the Supreme Court (judicial review) doesn’t agree with a proposed regulation, they each get their respective chances to stop that law. Congress shouldn’t be judged by the number of laws they make; they should be judged by the number of good laws that they make, and the number of bad laws that they turn down. I like Congress better, on both a state level and on a federal level, when there’s enough conflict in Congress to keep the bad laws down.

Of course, the “birther” thing is stupid to get tied up over, though.

Why do you think that NH needs more revenue? I think the “pledge” is dumb, but I’d be against a poposed income or sales tax right now. All that money that the government needs is already there, it’s just being misappropriated.

Most of the people up north that I know wouldn’t like you speaking for them. There are more Republicans and libertarians (per capita) in that part of the state than any other - they’re for decentralizing as much as anybody. Besides, a town or a region can still rally together against something which affects them all, like the Northern Pass. That’s basically what happened anyways - there was nowhere else in the state which had such strong resistance to the Northern Pass as up north.

Your last point is totally fair. Like I said, I’ve heard that some of the members are nutty. But I guess you feel like that’s representative of the whole group, and I don’t. As far as I’m concerned, the FSPers came here not just because it’s a low-population state where they might find themselves a voice, but because it’s a state that already had ideals similar to theirs.

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