Since the idea that there is a pressing need for reform of the way politics is financed seems to be gaining traction, I’m offering the following suggestions as to what realistic changes should look like in my view.
1) Ban all political donations to parties or individual candidates from PAC’s, unions, or corporations. Only individual citizens should be eligible to donate money.
2) Put a cap on how much money any individual may donate, say $10,1000 per party and $5,000 per candidate.
3) Allow individuals to donate money only to candidates in their own district. A Californian should not be able to influence a House race in West Virginia.
All of the above would pass constitutional muster, in my opinion. The question then arises; what happens if a multi-billionaire decides to donate $30 million to a 527 group to run ads to influence an election? Or what if a movie-maker releases a film which is aimed at affecting the political process? How about a writer publishing a book attacking a certain candidate? I don’t see how any restrictions on these activities could get past the Supreme Court, so I think that we will simply have to live with them.
Of course, these loopholes tend to make the whole reform process pointless. It does little good to restrict a corporation or union from donating directly to a candidate if they can donate instead to a 527 which supports that candidate.
However, many people have argued that it’s important that some action be taken so that some appearance of reform occurs. So I’m offering these suggestions as practical possibilities. Feel free to leave suggestions for other possible reforms in the comments section.