Campaign finance reform. It’s a buzzword phrase that either makes you incredibly passionate or snoringly bored.
Every response to any important issue is based on a threshold, a big game of risk/reward. Your response to a problem will follow a proportional line that closely relates to the impact or potential impact of the problem. The more I push you into that problem, the more options you’re willing to employ in your response. This is one of the most important philosophical distinctions in ethics, and it is
the foundational concept behind what is going to quickly become the most important shift in campaign finance history…
At what point is it ethically acceptable to seek and raise millions of dollars for a political campaign if that campaign is strongly against money in elections?
The answer seems to be…at this point, right now. The problem crossed that threshold over the last three or four elections, and I fully expect to see major campaign finance legislation over the next decade. Until now, those of us with a strong interest in getting money out of politics and the 28th Amendment effectively nullifying the Citizens United and FEC v. McCutcheon decisions thought that we could make a difference if enough people would just realize how important it is for each voter to have an equal voice. We thought we could do it grass roots. We thought we could do it while making a statement that we don’t need money to fix a money problem . But there was a threshold, and we were pushed over.
By the way, did you know that you can actually fight fire with fire? It turns out, if you use a controlled fire to remove oxygen and combustible elements from the fire’s path, it will suffocate the original fire. Firefighters have been known to set off dynamite around an oil well fire to remove the oxygen the fire desperately needs.
We need to fight fire with fire. We need to fight money with money. I hate that it has come to this, but we have crossed the threshold where the influence of money on our government cannot be reversed with desire and dreams. It has to be lots of money, because apparently that’s the only way to get people to start caring about being informed voters again. The very wealthy were originally intrigued by the Tea Party deregulation battle cry, but then those same Tea Partiers decided to shut down the government, and those wealthy people lost money. Then they threatened to not raise the debt ceiling, because they don’t understand the distinction between paying your already accumulated bills and spending more money. And those wealthy people lost money. Now some of those wealthy people have changed their tune, realizing they get a much more consistent return when the middle class is strong.
The most powerful evidence yet of this evolution comes from two things. This week, an amendment to the Constitution will be presented by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It will fail miserably, but it will be on record how our senators voted. Republicans will crush this bill under the guise of free speech, not willing to admit that free speech is infringed upon when someone else’s speech is more influential than mine because he can pay enough money to get a meeting with an elected official. The other piece of evidence comes from the recent creation of Mayday PAC, a crowd-funding project put together by Lawrence Lessig under the slogan “A SuperPac to end all SuperPacs.”
This is happening right now, and you have a chance to be heard so that you can finally have a voice loud enough to be heard. Fire with fire; sometimes it works. And sometimes, it’s the only option we have left.