A case for campaign funding reform

Yusuf Abusharif

Suppose there were three people in a race. The first is simply running like any other person would. The second has a mountain bike, even though this is not a triathlon. The third person is in a Bugatti Veyron, a multi-million dollar car. The man in the Bugatti obviously wins. Does this seem like a fair race? Definitely not.

So if we apply this idea of a equality in a footrace to equality in a political race, wouldn’t the same rules apply? Would it make sense that one political candidate had to rely on grassroots funding and small donations from constituents, the other had moderate corporate donations, and the third had funding from bankers, the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry and biotech companies?

If political campaigns for political races are full of financial inequalities that put the other candidates at a severe disadvantage, then they aren’t races at all. It’s more of a show than a race.

Money is destroying politics, and our political parties are being bought out by corporations. Super PACs funded by billionaires like the Koch Brothers and George Soros are dominating American political campaigns and unleveling the playing field for political candidates.

These PACs (political action committees) are owned by people who are involved in industries that may be indirectly related to politics, and there are no laws against politicians accepting money in exchange for political favors. In turn, the candidates they choose to fund will implement laws that are beneficial to their political financiers.

Even after political campaigns, once American politicians are elected, it is legal for lawmakers to accept money from lobbying firms who represent different financial sectors, advocacy groups and ideologies that they look to propagate.

This is counter productive in a democratic society, and instead of the peoples’ voices being heard, the peoples’ voices are being drowned out by much louder voices with billion dollar corporations backing them.

The solution to the problem with the mesh of money and politics in our democracy is not as complex as political commentary makes it seem. Federal laws must be changed or a constitutional amendment must be passed through Congress so that we can return to organic democracy. Campaign finance reform should be implemented in American politics, and corporate funding of political politics should be made illegal.

This idea is most definitely not foreign to lawmakers in the United States, and several bills have been introduced into the House of Representatives and the Senate. In September of 2014, the Senate unanimously shot down a bill that would allow Congress to regulate the amount of money political candidates were allowed to accept from corporations in political races. The bill did not reach the 60-vote threshold at 54-42. Similar bills like it have been vetoed in 1971, 1994, and 2002.

Lawmakers who oppose bills like this often use straw-man arguments and language designed to ignite the emotions of the American people to attack these ideas. They often call these bills “attacks against the Bill of Rights” and “infringements upon their rights.”

One should have the right to fund their political campaign, but they should do it the same way that they are voted in during elections: through contribution from constituents that are willing to donate to their cause.

The reasons these bills repeatedly fail to pass is simple: Many lawmakers owe their political careers to corporations who fund their political campaigns. Had they not been funded, they may not be sitting where they currently sit. It seems there is a conflict of interest when trying to pass legislation that would damper their political campaigns and put their jobs at risk.

Since our elected officials aren’t willing to pass legislation that could potentially put their careers in jeopardy, it is upon the American people to demand fair and balanced elections.

We, as citizens of a self-proclaimed democracy, must demand that we distance ourselves from the corporate kleptocracy in which we live. When a small group of people with large sums of money can control the political system with their wealth and power, our democracy is reduced to a corporate oligarchy, in which groups of few control the lives of the many.

My proposal to end this problem is a mass boycott of American politics until the political system under which we live is void of the influence of people who do not hold the values of the American people in their hearts and minds.

The American people must write our lawmakers, protest and boycott elections until their demands are met. Many would call my proposition to boycott elections counterproductive. I would answer that when one remains complicit in a system that is knowingly flawed, controlled and corrupted, then they become a part of it and are responsible for it.

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