Free-Market Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign finance regulation has been a very big deal on both the state and national levels for some time. Advocates for sharp restrictions on the amount that any given person can donate to a political candidate argue that, all too frequently, contributions are used to buy influence and access to lawmakers. Opponents of campaign finance restrictions point out that people have a constitutional right to support and publicize the political candidates they prefer and the political issues that are important to them. As with so many issues, I appreciate the concerns expressed by those who favor regulation — after all, it is a very rare politician who is willing to offer the average constituent the same respect and access afforded to the largest donors — but clamping down on people’s freedoms is a poor way to address this concern.
There is a freedom-respecting solution! Even more than campaign contributions, politicians respect votes. I propose that a group of voters simply pledge to cast their ballots based on how much money the candidates raise — and the lower the amount of contributions, the better. If as few as five percent of registered voters (which in many elections could be a decisive margin) committed to voting for candidates with smaller campaign “war chests,” I’d wager that politicians would quickly respond by de-emphasizing the importance of fundraising.
What do you think?