Friday, September 29, 2006
GEORGE WILL ON PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING
I read George Will's latest punditry in yesterday's newspaper. Seldom, do I spend time on George since I seldom agree with his views. This time the topic intrigued me. What could a person say against public financing of campaigns? I knew where George would be be but was curious how he fashioned his arguments around his settled premises.
George considered it "delicious" that the McCain/Feingold bill intended to reduce private funding of campaigns had actually enabled an increase.
The wealthiest persons and corporations with millions (billions) at their beck and call should have the LOUDEST voice and almost TOTAL DOMINATION of the media:print, tv, radio. (Eventually I am sure after they have privatized the internet --- "free speech" as they see it will prevail completely.)
Americans are a busy, harassed people trying to match their personal speed and schedules to the global economic threat and to the speed of technology. Unlike, the quieter days of the late 1700's when Jefferson envisaged the voters reading a handful of pamphlets or newspapers at day's end and perhaps going to the local pub to discuss politics-----today's citizens treat information as "fast food" -- picking bits or scraps hither and thither. Of course, if those with money exercise their "free speech rights" --- the tidbits voters pick up (are subliminally exposed to) will tend to be from chefs following the same cookbook's recipes.
Let's say that I am worth a measly million. When a badly needed school levy comes up --which I consider outrageous stealing from my pocket --- I form one or two committees or small organizations that are not tied to me but represent themselves as independent concerned citizens. I pour sufficient money into them to insure that 90% of what the voters hear and see will point them to a definite NO vote on the levy.
Is this an exercise of my free speech?? I don't think so. And if it's legal -- it's still UNDEMOCRATIC and should be made illegal.
Let the weight of arguments, facts and rationality be presented to the voters--- in a fair and as equal way possible. People might vote more if they were presented both or more sides of the issue, and with less emotionality and negativism.
George claims that public financing has failed. I would say what George Bernard Shaw said about Christianity: "A fine religion. Too bad it's never been tried."
Public financing has never really been implemented properly. By the time the bill comes to a vote --even if it had real merit -- it has been watered down and loop holes drilled wherever possible.
Not only should loop holes be efficiently plugged with super glue --- I will have the temerity to suggest that public financing be made mandatory. Instead of giving people the option to contribute to this efficacious remedy for some of our political ills --- I would like to see a law passed which would be part of the income tax structure: everyone with taxable income would have a VERY small percent removed to preserve The Republic; restore democracy; defeat corporate control of our freedom.
Outrageous idea? Not so. We support other necessities for our nation: police, fire, military, border control, etc. They all protect our democratic country -- public financing of campaigns would do likewise.
This final idea has little chance, probably, of being realized because of one of the weaknesses of our democracy: politicians care more about being reelected than about serving the needs of our country.
As Churchill, or Jefferson, or Franklin* said "Democracy is the worst form of all governments; except for the rest."
*I looked up this quote and came up with three attributions.