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In the aftermath of the 2008 election some people accused Barack Obama of receiving a lot of help from overseas, including contributions from Palestinians associated with terrorism. Recently Barack Obama has charged that his Republican opponents this year are receiving a lot of money from overseas. I realize that we’re all supposed to be caught up in the phony let’s you and him fight charade that goes on between these two supposedly opposing parties. But as reports come in confirming that both sides receive a substantial amount of money from sources overseas, I can’t help but feel that the wrestling match between the two so-called major parties on this issue is in fact a distraction. What really deserves attention is the fact that both parties appear susceptible to a lot of foreign influence.
This is exactly what their behavior would lead you to believe. Despite their supposed differences they seem in general agreement on a policy that neglects the security of our borders and allows or even encourages massive illegal immigration. They agreed on policies that have exported jobs overseas and allowed foreign countries to profit greatly from the flood of goods then exported into the US market. While time and again they have ignored clear public sentiment in opposition to bailouts that serve the interests, among others, of a lot of foreign investors, their pattern of behavior suggests no such sensitivity to the needs and opinions of the people they’re supposed to represent.
I often suggest that in place of all of this phony campaign finance reform it would be far better to implement an approach to the funding of political activities in this country based on a simple principle: no dollar vote without a ballot vote. If you’re an American citizen, of age and qualified to vote in a given election, the law should not interfere with your ability to vote your dollars in any way you choose and in any amount you please. If political freedom of speech and association mean anything they ought to mean the right to use the money your talent and work have earned to promote (to any degree you choose) the things in which you believe. Of course since this would only allow flesh and blood people to vote, the fictional persons that appear in law to represent corporations and labor unions, it would eliminate the controversy over these funding sources. Since only voters are allowed a dollar vote it would eliminate money that from non-citizen sources overseas. (It’s certainly not feasible to suggest that American citizens overseas are foreign sources, though that possibility validates the need to rethink the notion that birth on U.S. soil automatically entitles someone to claim U.S. citizenship.)
Like so many of the damaging problems we’re now dealing with the supposedly inordinate influence of foreign money in our politics is a product of government intervention. If and when we reduced that intervention to the minimum required in order to guarantee that the political process is financed exclusively by qualified voters, many such problems will disappear. Add a requirement that money be declared as to its source and amount when it is contributed, and that the records of contributions be immediately available for public scrutiny, and I think the people will have what they need to put their money behind their political convictions, and to police the results at the ballot box.
I’ve always thought that there are few things so patently laughable as the promise that politicians will serve the people by creating effective mechanisms to control their own corruption. That’s like saying the hen house will be better served if the foxes design and install the hen house security system.
The idea makes no sense. But it may give the hens a false sense of security while the foxes look for new and special ways to serve them. Which is probably why campaign finance reform is one of the favorite courses at the Finishing School for Bipartisan Cooperation and Civility, where well-behaved candidates for office learn how to wash their money before being seated.