There are things afoot in this country that make me scratch my head (and sometimes swear). One of those things is what I perceive as a lack of regulation of U.S. federal campaign financing limits. As a result, big money is buying the presidency. If special interests (corporations, trade unions, lobbies, etc.) fund the majority of a federal politician’s campaign, who do you think (s)he answers to once they get into office? Not the regular voting taxpayer, brothers and sisters!
I’m Canadian. I can’t vote in the U.S. and this post is meant to be non-partisan (even though I’m going to talk about a Republican candidate in a minute). Initially, I wanted to write a full comparative piece on campaign financing laws in Canada and the U.S. but, like the U.S. electoral system as a whole, I’m having a hard time understanding it.
The guts of it, however, are that in Canada, special interests such as corporations and trade unions can’t fund federal political campaigns. Not a penny. And limits on individual donations were just raised to $1200 on the first of this year. You heard right.
The U.S. has tried to institute campaign finance reform, but a 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court overturned an earlier (2002) piece of legislation that regulated financing and said that it was in violation of corporations’ and unions’ First Amendment rights. Yup. It violated their free speech when they couldn’t spend millions on TV commercials to promote the candidate who they knew would push their special-interest agenda. And you better believe that they do spend millions.
Here’s another thing, though. Only one guy that is running in the current Republican Party nomination race even has the guts to talk about it. His name is Buddy Roemer. If you haven’t heard of him, it could be because nobody will let him participate in any of the televised debates. Oh, reaaaaally? (Participation is supposed to be based on polling numbers, but when Roemer and Perry tied with the same 1%, Perry was invited, Roemer was not).
Campaign finance laws lean way too far in favor of special interests in the U.S. The amount of money that flows in from business lobbies, trade unions, etc. is absurd. It doesn’t seem very democratic to me, and I am baffled that more people (regular voting taxpayers) aren’t talking about it. I tip my figurative hat to Buddy Roemer for trying to raise the issue.