This Article is a comment on a thread posted in facebook by my friend Richard Eib. His thread begins with a news feed from the NY Times, that venerable, liberal Old Lady of Newsprint, and a newspaper to which I subscribe. The Thread, like many of Richard’s, reflects the growing frustration of the influence of fundraising on the nature and outcome of political campaigns. I recommend Richard Eib to my readers as a clear distinct voice which should be heard in our internet agora.
The original New York Times blog: http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/where-did-they-get-the-money-for-that/?nl=opinion&emc=tya1
My Comment on Richard Eib’s Thread, posted below:
Richard et al, I am very sympathetic to your point of view, but please note that Congress can only pass legislation relating to the qualifications for election to each Chamber, and can not pass legislation relating to limits on campaign spending, or anything to do with qualifications or spending limits on Presidential campaigns, not if it is working within its Constitutional limits. Nor can Congress pass legislation relating to election qualifications or campaign spending in any of the 50 sovereign states, except as provided for under the 13th and 14th Amendments. It requires an Amendment to the Constitution to limit, or redefine, in any manner, the political free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Congress of the United States can not “override” any decision of the SCOTUS, it can merely clarify “legislative” intent, and submit and pass a new bill, which when signed by the President may be legally challenged and submitted, through proper adjudication, for Judicial review and which may be heard, at the discretion of The Supreme Court. The framing fathers intended that all proposed Amendments to the US Constitution be initiated by the people’s representatives, and be submitted to the sovereign states for approval, I might add, in a manner determined by the states through actions of each state’s legislative body.
Let me note that in the opinion of many legal constitutional scholars, Title II of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is unconstitutional under any but the broadest interpretation of Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, commonly referred to as The Interstate Commerce Clause (TICC). TICC has been used by Congress literally free of constitutional restraint since enactment of The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. Interestingly, PAC’s and Political Campaigns engage in interstate commerce, primarily in the purchase of media time or space, and could properly be regulated under the incredibly broad interpretation Court’s have allowed Congress. After all, if I, a private citizen, who built a business from ground up without a Federal cent given me, can be told to whom I may or may not serve or sell, or with whom I may or may not choose to associate, then surely, Congress may tell PACS and Political Campaigns with whom they may do business, and on what terms, so long as those terms apply equally to all interested parties. However, SCOTUS could well find this an unconstitutional attempt to skirt precedent, again referring to the broad interpretation given the means and nature of political speech as guaranteed under the First Amendment. It is clear Congress simply lacks the ability to regulate campaign spending in Federal Elections, or the will to regulate qualifications of voters in Federal Elections, a task it finds easy to do in State Elections.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not prohibit literacy tests, poll taxes, or any other restrictions of qualifications to vote in Federal and State elections, it simply required that they be applied equally to all citizens. The Voting Right Act of 1965 did not require that all citizens be allowed to vote, it required that the (already constitutionally limited) right to vote not be denied by States enacting… “Voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” So States could enact legislation that would restrict voting rights to all qualified citizens, and could make a simple qualification rule determined by all citizens passing a test, administered in the same fashion as a driver’s license test, determining the familiarity of the citizen with the Founding Documents, Framing Fathers, US History, and Federal Law. A passing result would allow participation in perhaps three four year electoral cycles. The test could be retaken by any citizen until passed, and a federally approved curriculum could offer a selection of 100 questions from perhaps 10,000 possible questions.
Now Richard, et al, would you pass such a test, would I? Would it be worth becoming acquainted with The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, The Works of Thomas Paine, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution of the United States as passed, The Bill of Rights? And of Course my favorites, the Decisions of The Supreme Court of the United States and the complex constitutionally mandated relationship between the three, not at all co-equal, branches of the Federal Government.
Anyone wishing for the privilege, there is no constitutionally provided right, to vote in federal Elections would simply have to read and study for an amount equal to their one month’s dose of Reality TV to become enfranchised for 12 years!
This, Richard et al, is what you should be working to accomplish. Not a restriction of Constitutional Rights, but a refinement of electoral duty, a solemnization of electoral obligation, and the honor of well deserved participation in the body politic.
The thread as it appears:
This has got to be stopped.
5 people like this.
It is terrible that our politics have degenerated to a point where we can never really escape from campaign mode. As soon as someone is elected they are consumed with their re-election whether it’s soliciting donations or making a difficult policy decision that may make them unpopular or unelectable. Things need to change, we need both real campaign finance reform and we must revise the election process in a way that allows for actually governing the country. I have never been one for term limits since I actually think that some of the elected officials are good at their job but unless we can get control of the election process including all this PAC spending term limits may be the only reasonable alternative. We have term limits for President maybe it’s time for the rest.
This article only mentions Republican candidates. Is the implication that this is solely a Republican problem?2 hours ago ·
I assisted a candidate for office once and that is all the candidate did, make calls and beg for money…
The money .. has gotten way-way-way out of kilter and absolutly must be reformed. The US Supreme (arguable ruled wrong) but it is what it is and now it is up the Congress to rewrite the legislation for campaign financing.
This will also apply to Obama during the General Election (very soon)… but right now, the spending is from the PAC’s supporting the GOP candidates …hence the article used the currently available information… we all know it applies across the board.
From what I understand… there are several well funded PAC’s that will roll out positive Obama ads & Negative ads aimed at the GOP candidate… on top of that Obama will have almost a billion in campaign money to wage his re-election campaign…
the word ridiculous is insufficient to describe how incomprehensible and destructive to everything America is… it is unamerican!2 hours ago ·
The financial reform is essential, Senator Sanders has introduced a bill that would over ride the Supreme Court opinion in Citizens United that has let to this. But that only solves part of the problem. We need to reform of the actual election process itself. It is too dependent on a candidate having a huge bankroll in order to compete.