[EM] Campaign contribution reform

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Wed Feb 22 12:58:55 PST 2012

On 2/21/2012 4:04 PM, Jameson Quinn wrote:
 > ...
 > I think that voting reform is not a substitute for campaign finance
 > reform, but that they are complementary. ...

I agree they are complementary.  And I'm glad there are people working 
on campaign-finance reform.

My focus is on election-method reform because we now use a primitive(!) 
voting method that is very vulnerable to manipulation by money.

As I see it, election-method reform will untie the hands of lawmakers so 
that they can pass more meaningful campaign-finance reform laws. 
(Currently such "reforms" only pass when the law has a loophole.)

Richard Fobes

On 2/21/2012 4:04 PM, Jameson Quinn wrote:
> 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.
> Jameson
> 2012/2/21 robert bristow-johnson <rbj at audioimagination.com
> <mailto: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 <mailto:rbj at audioimagination.com>
>     "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
>     ----
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