There is something attractive about a measure that would put serious restrictions on campaign funding.
As voters begin to skim through their election guides, lobbyists are sweating over the limiting details of Prop. 89. The initiative is designed to restrict the wanton donating of influential campaign cash gifts, by special interest groups, to the electoral campaigns they support.
If passed, disbursal of private funding to the campaigns of candidate hopefuls, incumbents and politically motivated attack ads would no longer be infinite.
And greatly hindered would be the self-centered agendas of corporations, unions and wealthy individuals who play the game of swaying elections by funding one-sided commercial programming with money. All ballot measures are far from perfect. But 89 is a noble proposition. It states that a ceiling should be put in place on special interest money being discriminatorily tossed around.
Elections tend to be characterized by bias hearsay. Often, those groups with the most money lining their pockets are the only ones with a voice.
Big pharmaceuticals, oil companies and insurance lobbyists are just a few of the profit-sucking entities aghast at the idea of publicly-funded campaigns being financed on mainly their dimes and nickels. In fact, a 2 percent increase in corporate income tax would fund most of the needed reform.
So instead of unproportional amounts of money being thrown around by special interests, the playing field would be leveled with tax money. And with a majority of the tax money coming from corporations in the first place, it makes total sense that they would be appalled at this attempt by voters to clean up the way promotional standards are dealt with in elections.
These opponents say the reform is unfair, and that it violates the rights of free speech by big campaign spenders. Whether or not they have a valid point is relative. One thing is for sure: Such reform would without a doubt promote competition. A voice could be given to those who would otherwise be drowned out by the screams of their corporate competitors. The rules of the “pay to play” game would be dramatically altered.
Another thought is that by “leveling the playing field” any knucklehead who qualifies will jump at the opportunity to run for office on what would become public tax dollars. But that’s not necessarily the case. In order to be eligible to run for office, all candidates would require small financial contributions of support, and specific spending caps would be allotted, depending on the position sought.
On the flip side, this could encourage a more diverse pool of candidates. Grass-roots campaigns, featuring an alternative to the familiar, could realistically enter the picture. The traditional corporate-sponsored Republican/Democrat mud bath would be made much more interesting if say Green Party candidates could fairly afford to enter the picture.
Another interesting component of Proposition 89 has to deal with so-called “sugar daddy” candidate supporters. Under the current system, such supporters can finance (without limits) the campaign of any candidate they so choose. By establishing unprecedented guidelines, the passage of Proposition 89 would also drastically alter the manner in which business is conducted.
While sugar daddies can still spend significant sums of money on their political puppets, they would not be allowed to coordinate (in any way) with the candidate, or cause, they plan on boosting. Nor could they coordinate with anyone else related to the campaign.
Conversely, disadvantaged candidates would be given a chance to play on level ground. They would be given additional funds to counter the sugar daddies’ undermining efforts.
A yes vote on Proposition 89 should be a no-brainer for average voters. Its passage would guarantee a recall on politics as usual.