By Dr. Richard W. Morris, J.D., Ph.D
The Democrats complain the Koch Brothers put hundreds of millions into elections.[i] The Republicans complain George Soros puts hundreds of millions into elections.[ii] Candidates for congress and senate seats send emails all over the country asking for donations. We’ve all received them.
Unions,[iii] corporations,[iv] nonprofit organizations,[v] and even tax-funded state universities,[vi] all donate either directly to political campaigns or to Political Action Committees (PAC) who, in turn, donate to political campaigns. Then both sides scream the other side is “buying the election.”
Politicians babble about clean elections and do nothing. Because, if they do something, the Donor Class cannot donate to them. The politicians want the money more than “clean elections.”
The Wuhan virus pandemic brought yet another example of “big-guys” control into focus with the lockdown. Whom did it hurt? The small business owners and their customers. Get that? Small donors, like you and me, are the victims. The large corporations, the big donors, remained open for business. Amazon’s business skyrocketed. What a deal: the politicians locked down the competition so the big guys can make billions. The corruption could not be more obvious.
We must all realize election financing influences far-reaching aspects of our lives. It goes far beyond the campaign; it affects our everyday lives.
Where We Are
The situation was not always this way. At the nation’s beginning, only property owners could vote. The idea was property owners had “skin in the game” and would not vote for laws and taxes that, as French thinker Frederic Bastiat later put it, legally plundered the population.[vii]
Nowadays, politicians spend millions saying, “Vote for me. I’ll get you more of other people’s money than my opponent.” Once elected, they make deals with their donors, who make big bucks from government sponsored subsidies or favorable law changes. The happy beneficiaries of government favor then make big contributions to the politicians who are “cooperative.” That’s called cronyism or outright corruption, and the problem is universal.
The people whom the politicians don’t care about are the folks who elected them. Incredibly, looking out for the people in their home district is not a Constitutional duty for either the members of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Wouldn’t it be nice if they actually cared about the people in their districts? I think so.
What We Need
We need a simple system that encourages members of Congress to care about their constituents, while it also discourages their giving special favors to anyone. I think we can attain this lofty goal.
No matter what solution we find, we have to figure out whether fixing this is a state-by-state issue. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 4, says: “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.” Look at the last clause: is this a loophole?
What To Do
Consider this idea. Suppose only registered voters could donate to political campaigns. Organizations don’t vote, their members do. Only real people who live and work in the same district where a politician runs for office should donate. This rule would stop the CEOs of organizations in the Donor Class from spreading money all over the country to buy favors.
Truth be told, the CEOs aren’t even spending their own money. The CEOs get it from their organization’s members or withhold it from the shareholders. The CEOs are spending somebody else’s money to buy a politician who will directly or indirectly make the organization look good and make money. The CEOs get the credit and the pay raises. The voters get nothing.
So we must not let the CEOs run the show. Let the members and shareholders who care about the election be the ones who donate to an election campaign. Bosses must not be buying politicians.
Here is another idea. Suppose only registered voters who reside in the district for which the voters are voting can donate. This would stop rich people in one state from sending money to help elect people in other states.
For an example, look at the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) fund rasing. The top contributors for 2019 – 2020, were: Alphabet (Google), University of California (why would tax supported UC be the #2 contributor to a NY congress creature?), City of NY (meaning the NYC taxpayers), and Amazon.[viii]
Imagine what a difference it would make if the only people donating to AOC’s reelection were registered voters in her district. Instead of millions of dollars, she might only get thousands. Maybe pennies.
[i]. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/27/koch-brothers-network-to-spend-400-million-in- midterm-election-cycle.html
[iv]. https://www.businessinsider.com/companies-are-influencing-politics-by-donating-millions- to-politicians-2018-9?op=1
2020&contribcycle=2020&lobcycle=2020&outspendcycle=2020&id=D000030646. Incredibly, part of the tuition parents pay goes for political purposes, not education.
[vii]. “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” Frederic Bastiat, The Law (1848), full text available at http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html
[viii]. https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00041162&cycle= 2020&type=C [Report June 30, 2020).
Richard W. Morris, a retired lawyer who was licensed in the United States Supreme Court, Arizona, California, and the United Kingdom of England and Wales. He is a member of Mensa, and a former teacher and adjunct professor in economics. He holds the academic degrees of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.) with a major in economics, Juris Doctor (J.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (Ph.D.). During his half-century in aviation (airline transport pilot, flight and ground instructor licenses), he flew as pilot-in-command (Captain) in some 40 countries on four continents.
Dr. Morris began his legal career as a prosecutor in Tucson, Arizona, and San Diego, California, then as criminal defense counsel before placing the focus of his practice on civil matters. His published credits include articles in such diverse periodicals as the San Diego Realtor magazine, San Diego Mensan, American Ostrich, The Arizona Journal, American Atheist, Sun Life Magazine, Playboy, Truth Seeker, Art World News, the Arizona Republic, and Secular World. He was also a columnist for the now-defunct Page (Arizona) newspaper, “Page USA.”