[EM] Campaign contribution reform

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 06:18:27 PST 2012

> From: robert bristow-johnson <rbj at audioimagination.com>
> To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> Cc:
> Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:56:36 -0500
> Subject: Re: [EM] Campaign contribution reform
> 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).

dlw:But they'd also have to spend money to court the lower-rankings of the
supporters of 3rd parties.  This doesn't take money out of the equation,
but 3rd parties are often filled with people who are serious about politics
and who won't be so easily misled by nice sounding slogans.  Thus, to
attract them the major party candidates will have to deal with more
substantial matters and non-3rd party supporters will get exposed to more
of the real issues, which in turn will make the consequences significant if
once elected they simply gave the moneyed intere$t$ exactly what they want.

> 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.

dlw: What about a combination of transparency, progressive taxation of
contributions and some subsidies and prohibitions on donations from felons,
and prohibitions on the use of tv or internet advertising that is good
mainly for costly, negative campaigning?  I don't think we need to regulate
the amount of spending so much in that case, because that'd be hard to
enforce and could encounter constitutionality problems.

>> 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.

dlw: money also matters so much because our system tilts too easily to
effective single-party rule and so both of the big parties have gotta heed
the influence of $peech to prevent the other from dominating...

>  (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.

Thus, the need to argue that the writers of the US constitution would
recognize to learn from doing about the misleading nature of tv


> --
> r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com
> "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Jameson Quinn <jameson.quinn at gmail.com>
> To: rbj at audioimagination.com
> Cc: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:04:25 -0600
> Subject: Re: [EM] Campaign contribution reform
> JQ:Obviously, we won't all agree on this. I'll just say what I believe.

dlw:there's room for the use of reason to refine what we believe...

> JQ: I think that voting reform is not a substitute for campaign finance
> reform, but that they are complementary.

dlw: VF that leads to more competitive elections and gives outsiders more
voice is the natural form of CFR that leads to further CFRegulations and
their effective enforcement.

> JQ: 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.

dlw: Ie, like the current US prez election?   But, as I recall from
Industrial Organization which I have taught at the college level, if a
natural monopoly or duopoly is regulated then it can be made to produce
outcomes not unlike what would tend to occur with a far more competitive
market.  Could not CFR be a part of making a contested political duopoly
act more like a multi-party system?

> JQ: 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.

dlw: A 3rd party candidate cd game the system by coupling their slow-burn
campaign with a pledge to request one's followers to support the major
party candidate who best commits to your key demands.  This is something
that Ron Paul might do, since Mitt needs to get the GOP primaries behind
him ASAP.

> So voting reform will solve a little bit of the problem of campaign
> finance reform.

I don't know if it will end the use of high-burn campaigns.  More like if
it shifted the median voter to folks who are less easy to lead astray thru
misinformation campaigns.
But it is critical to elect some 3rd party folks to get adequate
enforcement of CFRegulations, since the two biggest parties cannot be
trusted to do such.

> 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.

dlw: But the zero-sum aspect of politics stems from how the state is the
body that is given a monopoly on the use of legit violence with the intent
being to thereby reduce violence.  No change in election rules will change
that.  This is why 2-party politics often gets replaced by 2-party
coalitions politics.

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