Rethinking Public Political Financing

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont wrote a piece for the Huff-n-Puffington Post.  In it he assaulted corporations and big anything for attempting to buy Congress.  The Independent senator, who caucuses with the Democrats, makes a strong case for public financing of all political campaigns.  I want to explore just how this would work.

“The antidote, in my view, is public funding of elections so that everybody has the opportunity to run for office without having to be beholden to powerful special interests. ”  Bernie Sanders I-VT

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/who-owns-congress_b_300104.html

Okay.  So our first question is who decides who gets money for a campaign.  We know Congress will only adequately fund itself to the exclusion of challengers, so that won’t work.  What about an independent board?  They could decide who gets money and how much. 

Next, we must decide how this board is selected.  If it is chosen by Congress or the President, they will install their own political lackeys.  That won’t work.  Perhaps we could have ‘the people’ choose the board members.  How do ‘the people’ select the members?  Why, elections of course.  Who would want to be on the board?  Well, every political hack you can think of.  So, we must have them run for the board. 

Great.  But running for office requires organization and money.  Who is going to provide this money?  Maybe the states could fund these public finance board elections.  But, wouldn’t the state political hacks just finance their own partisan candidates?  Well, we could have people at the local level finance these candidates.  But wait.  Won’t all the Republicans and Democrats only fund their own candidates?  How would people outside the parties get a chance to sit on this all powerful board?  I mean, only people vetted by the respective parties are really qualified to run for office.  It would be a great way to make the whole process fairer, wouldn’t it. 

So, now we have another public board that is solely responsible for funding candidates.  They have been selected by the two parties to distribute the money to the candidates for Congress and the presidency.  These candidates will rely solely on the board for their campaign funds.  The boards will operate completely without review by the politicians, since the politicians are dependent upon the board. 

Problem solved.  We’ve created another layer of government that will be able to arbitrarily decide who gets to run and who doesn’t.  The two parties will effectively decide the board members.  It will all work without the nasty, brutal corporate interests getting involved.  Instead, it will work within each party.

But, who will fund Sen. Bernie Sanders?  He’s an avowed socialist who is not a member of either party.  Where will he turn for campaign funds?  What will he do? 

See.  There is a reason to consider this public plan.