Posted by: Paul Nichols
30 Aug 2010
What's the biggest issue in politics? Political correctness? Crooked politicians? Illegal immigrants? Budget deficits? "Finger pointing Federalism" (coined by me just right now, but likely used in similar contexts by sources I have not learned of or researched) where governments blame each other for their own inability to pay for services?
It changes depending on who you're talking to. I actually think budget deficits are the biggest issue in politics/government. Budget deficits mean that the government has to borrow money, or print more money, to cover its costs. This forces future generations to cover the costs of today's generation. It's pretty selfish. For all the talk about how useless Generation Y is, the Baby Boomers in power seem to be doing a fantastic job of taking a baseball bat to Generation Y's fiscal knees.
What's the biggest issue in politics? Budget deficits.
What's the most important one? Campaign Finance Reform.
How do we expect politicians to not be crooked (however dramatically you want to define this word) when their very livelihood depends on raising money for the next campaign?
Should we be surprised when they fund pork projects that benefit companies that financed them?
Should we be surprised that politicians trade votes to help fund even more absurd projects? (Take a look at the classic book, Tribes on the Hill.)
I know there's a cost to publically funded campaigns, and I'd love to hear suggestions about how such a system would work, but I believe the benefits outweigh the costs.
First, publically funded campaigns open politics to folks who aren't independently wealthy. Imagine someone being able to run for office based on the strength of their beliefs instead of the strength of their wallets or the volume of her/his voice.
Second, they would help free politicians from owing political favors. Perhaps they could actually vote on the merits of a project rather than whether it ensures additional campaign contributions. I'm not saying politicians should never try to pass a bill that would benefit their own constituency; I am saying that I'd hope publically funded campaigns would reduce vote trading and pork projects.
Tell me - what are the other benefits of publically funded campaigns? Any ideas on how it could work? Should it just be at the Federal level of government, or State level too? Is local government open enough to everyone that it's not needed there?
What are the drawbacks of publically funded campaigns, other than up-front costs?
I think a lot of the problems in government today are symptoms of an election system that makes it difficult for average folks to run for office, and results in wasteful spending. I believe publically funded campaigns force candidates to debate important issues over the long-term, like the lack of budget flexibility due to Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, rather than focus on short-term hot-button issues that make a good media story but don't have much substance (I could have chosen several stories that have been unduly dominating the news, but I refuse to acknowledge that they're news by writing them here).
So, what say ye? Let's fix this government we're a part of rather than putting band-aids on the symptoms of these problems! We've got to fix it!