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Campaign Funding Quick Fix

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Campaign Finance Reform

A very modest step to clean up campaign money sources...

Under our constitution, members of the House represent voters in their congressional districts while senators represent the voters in their states. However, as campaigns become more expensive, it seems members of Congress grow more interested in the needs of their donors, rather than the concerns of their voters. According to the Center For Responsive Politics, in 2016 the average congressional candidate raised $495,468 for House races and an average of $1,451,495 for Senate campaigns. Obviously, if a candidate doesn't have a giant reserve of cash, raising such a large amount of money requires a huge amount of time and effort, and the stakes keep getting higher. Because it is a violation of Federal law to raise campaign funds on Federal property, the Senate and House campaign committees have facilities located close to congressional office buildings where members spend a lot of time every day making phone calls to ask for contributions. Also, a look at any candidate's travel schedule will find them spending much of their time at fundraising events outside their own states or congressional districts; for example, in the glitzy Hamptons, Beverly Hills, Dallas, New York City and Silicon Valley. Donors making these contributions are not foolish since they expect - and get - a good return on their investment in the form of influence over elected officials. A proposal to begin to reform this system would require a Federal law specifying that an American citizen may only make campaign contributions to a candidate for whom they are eligible to vote. This would begin to align and elevate the influence of voters and donors in that they would be represented by two senators and one member of Congress. It certainly would not solve the problem of large donors in Federal campaigns, but it could help. This proposal would pose some First Amendment concerns which would have to be examined more closely. However, the Supreme Court has already recognized the power of Congress to control and limit money going to candidates. Also, it would not prevent donors from spending their own money on "independent" advertisements for congressional candidates, which might be seen to constitute a direct control of speech. If the solution to campaign finance reform returns the electoral power to constituents going to the polls and strips power from fat-cats and heavy-hitters, candidates will need to realign their focus on voter interests. All the time spent on getting elected or reelected will require engagement within their own state's people while answering to the needs of the citizens they're elected to serve. If money talks, why shouldn't it be in a language voters will understand?

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