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An ugly money-fueled campaign

August 23, 2012

It’s only August — with the election not until November — and I’m already suffering from a major overdose of ugly campaigning.

I dread opening the mailbox and have stopped answering the telephone to avoid all the political robo-calls.  (It’s typical of the politicians to exclude themselves from “do not call” regulations, even though their endlessly self-serving and often dirty political calls are precisely the ones most citizens would most like to avoid.)

The root problem is the huge amount of money being spent on elections — even more so this year with the Supreme Court’s unfortunate “Citizens United” decision that opened the floodgates for unaccountable campaign from PACs.

As I think about what might be possible politically, perhaps the most sensible reforms (in order of practicality) would be these:

1.  Disclosure. Full and timely disclosure of all campaign contributions.  (Timely means no contributions allowed in the last month before an election and the amounts and sources of all contributions posted online at least two weeks prior to the election.)

2.  Contribution Limits.  Reasonable limits of the amounts that can be contributed to any political candidate (including the candidate him/herself).

3.  Spending Accountability.  No PACs or other anonymous spending — for or against — any candidate.  All campaign spending would have to come directly from the candidate’s official campaign committee.

4.  Citizen Contributions Only.  No contributions allowed from corporations, unions, associations, etc.  All campaign contributions would to come from individual citizens.  (This would probably require a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision.)

Of course none of this will happen unless citizens get involved enough to force the politicians to actually do something meaningful!

Also see the election reform chapter at, which includes a draft of a possible Constitutional Amendment.

  1. Fred permalink

    Do something, Joe! Words, opinions and newsprint are cheap! You have my vote for KING. Maybe that will help.


    • Thanks, Fred, but the last thing we need in America is a king. We need more good citizens who care enough to pay attention and speak out.


      • Fred permalink

        If you were King for a just a year, you could put all the bad citizens in a dungeon and let the good ones speak out.


  2. Mike Ruddell permalink

    The campaign donation solicitations began not long after the 2010 elections (80K a plate dinners for Obama). The primary season is way too long, and when you realize how much is spent to get elected and how much the salary offered for the office in question, it really does not make sense.


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