Run on Someone Else’s Dime

Hmmm. Gregg Easterbrook riffs on the familiar complaint that money is contaminating politics. But his complaint is less about buying influence than dereliction of duty:

Read this insightful (and thoroughly depressing) piece by James Bennet of The Atlantic detailing how contemporary American politics not only is driven by campaign money, but is becoming entirely a pursuit of campaign money, with all other questions (right and wrong, what’s good for the country, dull stuff like that) secondary. Excerpt: “By late July, Barack Obama had held 194 fundraisers in his third and fourth years in office. In the same period, Ronald Reagan held three.”

We all know this. We’ve been in campaign mode since December 2008. But whereas most of the Left suggest that we gut free speech and limit contributions … or gut freedom of association and force the taxpayers to fund campaigns … Easterbrook has a better solution:

Don’t try to limit donations — forbid fundraising by current public officials.

If any person or organization wants to donate to the president or other elected official, fine, so long as the donation is disclosed. But it should not be fine for a sitting president or other elected official not only to solicit donations but to do so on public time, receiving public pay and benefits while asking interest groups for more money. Surely this engages the “actuality and appearance of corruption” the Supreme Court said in 1976 was the one aspect of political money that may be regulated.

Holding a political office is a form of employment. Employers may impose rules. If you told your employer, “I am not going to perform my duties for months at a time because I am jetting around the nation fundraising for myself, and by the way I expect my full salary,” your employer would not tolerate this. Voters should not tolerate this either. Foreswearing fundraising should be one of the conditions of holding public office. And if that handed an advantage to challengers — good, because incumbents hold too many advantages.

Conservatives have been complaining about this continually since Barack Obama was elected — that he seems to spend most of his time campaigning and fund-raising (Obama even fund-raised after the attacks in Libya). And … we’re right. Say what you want but … 194 fund-raising events in two years is ridiculous. And Obama is not unique in this: our entire Congress is engaged in this sort of behavior, dashing out of Washington practically every week to hobnob.

I think Easterbrook underestimates the sheer money advantage challengers would have if incumbents were forbidden to fund-raise. But I also think people overestimate the impact of outside money on elections and underestimate the power that incumbents have to use the treasury to campaign. A good compromise might be forbidding politicians from fund-raising while Congress is in session.

What do you guys, think? Keep in mind, that this would hobble a Romney re-election campaign in 2016 or a Christy re-election campaign in 2020. Do you think it would be worth it to have, very likely a series of one-term Presidents, if they were more focused on … you know .. their fucking job?

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    The solution is simple: running for re-election of any office should be a capital offense.

    Seriously, getting in some new blood and eliminating the culture of corruption that is long-term political office is something we can do without.

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  2. Mississippi Yankee

    Not to beat a dead horse but in as much as money influences elections ultimately it comes down to votes. Sometimes two or three of them… at one

    O’Keefe and Project Veritas expose Obama for America/DNC voter fraud enablers

    James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas investigators went inside Organizing for America headquarters in Houston, Texas, and captured footage of paid campaign workers and other volunteers conspiring to commit election fraud not in 1 or 2 states, but in five different states. The video above speaks for itself. But there is much, much more.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    If it’s O’Keefe, I assume it’s bullshit until proven otherwise. I notice you ignore the recent scandals of Republicans operative only registering people who say they will vote for Romney.

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  4. balthazar

    Why is that Hal?

    Because he exaggerated WHAT HE WAS WEARING in the acorn vids?

    They still did all the shit he said they did.

    Because what his actual crime in his Louisiana arrest was so much less than what they originally charged him with?

    He was railroaded for what he did there.

    You do know he has released the unedited versions of these tapes right?

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    balthazar, I know all of that. I wrote a blog post a long time pointing out that Rachel Maddow was full of shit with what she said about the ACORN tapes. I also know how he edited the NPR tapes, his bizarre plan for Abbie Boudreau, etc.

    OKeefe is not a journalist or a an investigator or a hero. The real heros are at places like the Institute for Justice, who are constantly fighting the authorities in court to protect property rights. O’Keefe is a circus geek, biting the heads off bats. He records these “shocking” videos of various conservative bette noirs that have zero impact on public policy, zero improvement in our lives but stimulate the adrenal gland just fine. All he does is rile people up. There is nothing positive that ever came out of his work. And there never will be.

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  6. Mississippi Yankee

    If it’s O’Keefe, I assume it’s bullshit until proven otherwise. I notice you ignore the recent scandals of Republicans operative only registering people who say they will vote for Romney.

    Didn’t ignore anything. What the republicans did is exactly what ACORN was doing last election. Both camps have been caught registering their preferential voters.

    Neither of the R or D stories come up to the level of, in some recorded clips, employees of the DNC condoning voters to cast 2 and in some cases 3 votes in the same election.

    Registering preferential voters = Bad

    Out right condoning voter fraud = Evil

    Attacking the messenger ( O’Keefe) = Alinsky Rule #5

    Tell me again how you’re not an Ivory Tower liberal.

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