[EM] Campaign contribution reform

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Tue Feb 21 16:04:25 PST 2012

Obviously, we won't all agree on this. I'll just say what I believe.

I think that voting reform is not a substitute for campaign finance reform,
but that they are complementary. For me it comes back to the metaphor of a
political duopoly being like a commercial duopoly or monopoly. A monopoly
can and will maintain higher prices, lower quality, and poorer service. In
political terms, that means being more attentive to donors and less
attentive to voters. It also means running the kind of campaign that relies
more on money than on voter enthusiasm.

Breaking the political duopoly won't magically make campaigns run without
money. But it will make it more possible to run a slow-burn campaign, where
a popular message attracts growing support, based a little bit more on
word-of-mouth and a little bit less on money. That kind of campaign is
utterly impossible today, because if you're not one of the top two in the
primary, then the top in the primary, then a serious candidate in the
general... it becomes an unbreakable vicious cycle, because supporting
anyone outside the top two (which, especially in the early stages, is very
much defined by money) is not just a waste of effort, it's positively
harmful to your side.

So voting reform will solve a little bit of the problem of campaign finance
reform. Also, by breaking the binary zero-sum logic of two-party politics,
voting reform will make it easier for citizens to press for finance reforms
and get them passed. And if campaign finance reform is passed (in whatever
form local voters prefer, be that regulation, public funding, equal time,
or whatever), voting reform will make it more effective and sustainable.


2012/2/21 robert bristow-johnson <rbj at audioimagination.com>

> On 2/21/12 1:45 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> [pulled out of message below]
>> On 2/20/2012 5:18 AM, Raph Frank wrote:
>>  ...
>> > I assume you mean campaign contribution reform?  That isn't actually
>> > an election method.
>> Nope.
>> As I see it, using better ballots and better counting methods will cut
>> the puppet strings that connect politicians to their biggest campaign
>> contributors.
> boy, that's certainly not a tautology.  you sure the apples and oranges
> are not independent axis.  i don't see IRV or Condorcet or SODA or whatever
> is the flavor of the month changing the pressure to spend money on getting
> one's message out (and possibly jack-hammering it into the heads of the
> gullible).  if a major candidate does not spend money of visibility and the
> opportunity to frame the debate and promote the campaign's message, that
> candidate's opponents (who are also a major party with access to money).
> What will reform it is coercive law limiting contributions and spending
> (not likely in the U.S. until some nasty Supreme Court justices die and go
> away) and transparency so that we can all watchdog each other.
>> The main reason money matters so much (in politics) is that money can be
>> used to win elections through vote splitting
> no, sometimes money is used to reverse votes, even in multiparty or simple
> two-party contexts.  campaigns and PACs can pour a truckload of money on
> top of a race both to convert voters away from a major candidate's major
> opponent, but also to shift votes from a minor candidate to this candidate.
>  (in primary elections), gerrymandering (which affects general elections),
>> and media influence. Vote splitting and gerrymandering will disappear when
>> well-designed voting methods are used.  Then money won't matter as much.
>>  (Media influence will continue, but voters can ignore it.)
> but they can't ignore saturation advertising.  gotta be deaf to ignore a
> jack-hammer.  that's what money can pay for no matter what the election
> method is.
> --
> r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com
> "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
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