June 20, 2012

Voter Purge or Cash Splurge (part 2)

So, I was a little off when I said that the thing that really harms the integrity of the process and undermines voter confidence was not dead people. It is dead people -- dead presidents, actually.

Most people get that running for office costs money. Lots of money. There's polling, and focus groups, and lawn signs, and mailings, and TV ads and radio ads and bus ads and get out the vote drives.

There's rent for headquarters, sometimes multiple headquarters, to cover the sprawling (and ridiculous) districts. Phone bills and Internet bills and office staff and copiers and printers and all that stuff. Doodads to hand out to people so they don't forget you.  The list goes on and on.

Most people also clearly get -- they really do -- that corporations aren't people, that unions aren't people, that PACs aren't people, that interest groups and business groups aren't people. 

Opinionated billionaires are people, of course, but when they choose to donate their gazillions into the political process through whatever means they can, in my eyes these folks lose their personhood and become just like corporations and interest groups -- they become little more than wallets.

Wallets that open up and spill out tens of millions of dollars, that pour money into districts they've never heard of, never been to, and couldn't find if their lives depended on it. They buy up the airwaves, bombarding us with lies, which some folks actually fall for. They drive me nuts.

So no, it's not the risk of dead people voting that erodes voter confidence, it's the money, stupid. It's the cash splurge that candidates know they can count on, and believe they can't win without.
Here's a thought or three:
  • What if you had to show photo ID and proof of residency in the district of the candidate you were donating to? 
  • What if politicians swore to never take a dime of PAC or special interest money?
  • What if broadcasters only aired ads that were paid for and approved by the candidates themselves? 
Ah. What if I weren't so naive?