Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to get real campaign finance reform

People are known to spend money in order to gain political influence, and this starts with donating money to candidates prior to elections, and then sending lobbyists to state and national capitols.  There is nothing wrong with this, as it is completely constitutional, or legal.  

In recent years, however, this has gotten out of hand.  It's gotten to the point where corporations are spending millions of dollars for lobbyists who champion for causes that will benefit their corporations.  There are individuals with a lot of money who gain power and influence through their campaign donations.  

Yet there are those among us who champion that this is not fair, and that we ought to stop it.  There are those who don't think it's fair for people with a lot of money, and large corporations, to be purchasing government at the expense of the common folk and our personal liberties.  

So their solution is campaign finance reform.  Yet most of these have been shot down by lower courts because they are, in effect, unconstitutional.  The most recent attempt was the McCain-Finance Act, or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, of 2002, that limited the amount of financial influence a person could have. In January of 2010 the Supreme Court ruled this law to be unconstitutional.  

The reason that these laws have been shot down by the courts is that, according to Article II Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, finance reform is not one of the enumerated powers given to the Federal government by the Constitution.  In other words, the Federal government has no authority to rule on it.  

Likewise, the first amendment guarantees the right of free speech, and campaign finance is a form of free speech.  Therefore, the Federal government has no right to control it b law . It does, however, have a right to control it by limiting the scope and influence of government.  

Think about it: if the size and scope of our government was not so huge, individuals and corporations would not have a desire to influence it.  So true campaign finance reform would come not from more laws that are unconstitutional, but reducing the size and scope, and therefore the influence, of government.

Further reading:

  1. Harry Reid wants amendment to give Congress the power to regulate spending levels in federal campaigns.