Let’s level the playing field before next election
We said it last week, but it’s worth repeating: Congress and state Legislatures need to fix this broken campaign finance system of ours, which is contributing mightily to the rampant lack of trust in governments both big and small.
Spending for what is considered a strategically important Senate seat will go even higher than $20 million by the time of the final accounting for all of the money that flowed into this race.
For example, the gubernatorial recall election of June 5 between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, cost $80.9 million, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reports.
The Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, now estimates that overall, the 2012 election will cost $6 billion.
And much of this is money flowing into outside groups, most of that from wealthy donors, which should lead to this question:
Even if you buy the argument that money spent on a campaign enables free speech, is it really fair that the wealthy get more speech?
These developments should not be surprising after the U.S. Supreme Court’s misguided Citizens United decision to call corporations and other organizations people and allow them to spend like drunken sailors.
There is no doubt that negative advertising, which is what most of that money goes for, works. Polling analyzed by the Journal Sentinel’s Washington Bureau Chief Craig Gilbert shows that Thompson’s image took a huge hit after a rough-and-tumble Republican primary in which he was attacked mercilessly by three opponents and then by Baldwin.
Short of cash, Thompson couldn’t immediately respond.
We’ll see more of the same, especially since the Supreme Court is unlikely to change its mind. But there are steps that can be taken to ensure transparency and fairness:
Require corporations to notify their investors that they plan to make campaign contributions - and require investors to approve of the practice.
Create a voluntary program providing a match on small contributions up to a certain amount, say $200 or $250. The idea is to give small donors more of a say.
Public funds would be available for candidates based on their ability to show continuing support from small donors, which could offset the influences of the wealthiest contributors.
Pass the Disclose Act.
This federal bill would require political spending by corporations, unions or other groups to be reported to the Federal Election Commission if it’s more than a certain amount.
Voters have a right to equal access to the candidates through contributions. And they have a right to know who is doing the giving.
After this election day, let’s remember that despite a campaign drowning in cynical advertising fueled by big money, there are still legal and thoughtful ways to level the playing field.
Lawmakers just have to take those steps.
— The Milwaukee
Christie Forces Fox to Rewrite its Script
Here’s how much our nation’s political system has “jumped the shark”:
It’s now news when a Republican governor says something nice about a Democratic president during a time of national need.
That’s what happened this week when President Barack Obama did what our nation expects of its presidents. He swiftly engaged federal resources to help the Northeast survive and recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered a likely future GOP candidate for president, responded similarly, going on television and reassuring his state’s residents, directing them to safety, making sure the state’s first responders had the resources to do their jobs.
Then, gasp, he complimented the president and on Fox News, no less. Poor “Fox and Friends” host Steve Doocy looked dumbfounded (more than normal, even) when Christie said this after Doocy tried to get him to say something equally nice about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
“If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”
If that’s the real Chris Christie, as compared to the guy who has been blathering on about how Obama couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag, we look forward to seeing more of him come 2016.
— The St. Louis Post-Dispatch