Money Wins Elections
May 1, 2013 10:38 AM   Subscribe

 
Well that doesn't sound very profitable.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:44 AM on May 1, 2013


Well PayPal will probably take a couple points off the top...
posted by Mister_A at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The medium isn't the message. Focus on your presentation and try again.
posted by boo_radley at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyway, I like the idea of getting money out of politics (or at least regulating it) but I don't know that this proposal is the way to go. Seems a bit wasteful to be honest. Putting an end to the free speech charade (money=speech) is, to me, the way to enact real change. No more slush funds and bogus organizations built just to slander the opponent.

The site itself is kind of cool, and I don't usually dig these one-page sites.
posted by Mister_A at 10:49 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the idea for the bill and the presentation on the site is pretty cool. Thanks for posting.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:49 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The medium isn't the message. Focus on your presentation and try again.

It's some dude's MFA design thesis project.


Are there any other websites out there with this sort of magical scrolling wizardry?
posted by phunniemee at 10:50 AM on May 1, 2013


More like the American Corruption Inflation Act.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:50 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't get where the $100 per person is supposed to come from. One section says it is a tax rebate - this sounds more like "yes I donated $100 this year and would like to deduct it" which is probably ripe for gaming and won't actually do a damn thing.
posted by Big_B at 10:53 AM on May 1, 2013


Mandatory public campaign financing would be a more direct approach, wouldn't it? I'm on-board with the spirit of this effort, but I think we'd be better off just taking the money out of the process all together. The money in politics has other distorting effects on the process as well (making it highly profitable to be a political flak polluting the media landscape with misleading information, for example).

Why not work to make votes the most important currency in our democratic processes?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


phunniemee, this technique is called parallax.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:55 AM on May 1, 2013


Also the Jack Abramoff involvement is a bit off putting. And by "bit" I mean a lot.
posted by Big_B at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2013


I like it as long as all other campaign funding is banned. Everyone gets an equal voice.

Otherwise, all it's going to do is make the big corporations spend even more on their lobbying to out-shout the little guys.
posted by JDHarper at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2013


The issue is money shouldn't equal free speech, not who controls the most money loudest voice.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: "Why not work to make votes the most important currency in our democratic processes?"

Because votes won't pay for the food at your daughter's wedding.
posted by Big_B at 10:59 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, it specifically expects you to use the up and down arrows to scroll, and behaves oddly if you use page down or the scroll wheel. Interesting.

Can anybody point to a source for the 68% of campaign donations? That specific point was interesting to me and I'd like to verify it.
posted by boo_radley at 11:00 AM on May 1, 2013


... we'd be better off just taking the money out of the process all together.

Then how would you get your candidate's message out to the voters?
posted by Longtime Listener at 11:12 AM on May 1, 2013


An interesting thing is that politicians would (theoretically) have incentive to pass this. If there were ~130 million voters in the last presidential election, that's $13bil extra that gets funneled into political campaigns. Of course, where that large number of dollars comes from is a good question.
posted by gnidan at 11:12 AM on May 1, 2013


I subscribe to the Plato school of governance sans money: raise philosophical lawmakers from birth, make their job onerous and thankless.

Well, not completely. But I think until we introduce a little humility and perhaps guaranteed poverty into the lawmaking process, we're not going to get a straight deal.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) Pass this bill.
2) Run for office every year, hire no campaign staff and do no advertising.
3) Donate $100 to yourself.
4) Profit.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:20 AM on May 1, 2013


I subscribe to the Plato school of governance sans money: raise philosophical lawmakers from birth, make their job onerous and thankless.

Well, not completely. But I think until we introduce a little humility and perhaps guaranteed poverty into the lawmaking process, we're not going to get a straight deal.


This is a terrible idea. The only people who can take up office in a situation like this are independently wealthy dilettantes who can afford to do it. It'll only get worse.

"Citizen legislatures" are victims of this. The objective is to allow ordinary citizens a shot at being in the state legislature, but most ordinary citizens can't take a year out of their life and income to run for office, only to be paid part-time wages for what is effectively are full-time jobs.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:27 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


... we'd be better off just taking the money out of the process all together.

Then how would you get your candidate's message out to the voters?


Weekly debates, aired on the public airwaves in all media markets in that candidate's district free of charge in prime time on a day chosen by random lot and re-run 8 and 16 hours later, for one month before primaries and general elections in those media markets. Only candidates who get signatures numbering at least 5 percent of the total vote in the immediate previous election can appear. Each candidate submits a selection of moderator, format, topic, location, etc. The candidates eligible to appear vote on the selection and cannot vote for their own submission. If no majority is reached, the submission gathering the fewest votes is eliminated (or more than one, if there is a tie for fewest) and another vote is held on the remaining submissions. If they deadlock, one is chosen by random lot.

A weekly 30-minute infomercial for each eligible candidate, aired in the same way, one per day, (selected by random lot). Content and production totally up to the candidate, but a studio, a camera, and a chair will be made available. No other political ads on radio or television, period.

Signs no larger than 5' x 3', placed on private land only. No billboards.

Empower the FEC to rule on what is and isn't a "political" advertisement, and disallow anything the FEC says is one.

Any person, organization, company, club, collective, group, band or hloth may mail anything they'd like at non-bulk rates. The USPS needs the money.

But that's just me trying to avoid a round of database updates. I'm sure there are better ideas.
posted by Etrigan at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's true that 95% of the time, the candidate who spends more wins. But it's well understood that this is far more a story about "Nobody wants to give to terrible candidates with no realistic chance of winning" than it is about the effects of money. Quality candidates with a decent (but still less than even) chance of winning are virtually certain to have enough campaign money to take their case to the people. It's just that most challengers are very low quality candidates.

Mandatory public campaign financing would be a more direct approach, wouldn't it?

I'm too lazy to go pull the cite, but I've seen either articles or conference papers arguing that public financing is a large part of why Arizona has gone over the derp cliff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2013


Money Wins Elections

I thought it said "Monkey wins election," and I was like, "Good for him!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2013 [22 favorites]


Michele Bachmann spent $22,000,000 on her congressional campaign??? Methinks somebody blurred the lines between fundraising for their run for congress and run for president.
posted by dry white toast at 11:34 AM on May 1, 2013


But I think until we introduce a little humility and perhaps guaranteed poverty into the lawmaking process

We already do the poverty thing. State legislative pay is typically in the $15-30K range and sucks enough time out of your life that you can more or less kiss any career outside of real estate, law, or owning shit goodbye.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:36 AM on May 1, 2013


I'm too lazy to go pull the cite, but I've seen either articles or conference papers arguing that public financing is a large part of why Arizona has gone over the derp cliff.


Good thing I'm procrastinating right now!

Buying Extremists? Public Funding, Parties, and Polarization in Maine and Arizona

There were no hits for "derp cliff."
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:36 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it said "Monkey wins election," and I was like, "Good for him!"

I just found myself wondering if you were a democrat or a republican and I couldn't figure it out.
posted by srboisvert at 11:47 AM on May 1, 2013


Even if there are problems with public financing in Arizona, that doesn't necessarily indict public financing--just the specific form of it used in Arizona. It could just as well reflect an already corrupted political system, in which case, no amount of reform is going to fix the problem until the corruption gets rooted out somehow, so it's a bit of a catch-22.

Norway does it more or less the way Etrigan describes (that's a link to CNN, so for all I know the article could be retracted by the time this posts, but it covers the general campaign finance picture globally). As discussed in this forum post, most European and other Western democracies have some form of public financing system and limits on political advertising. Some more info on political financing and transparency here.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:51 AM on May 1, 2013


I didn't remember that was Seth. Seth is smart.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 AM on May 1, 2013


Michele Bachmann spent $22,000,000 on her congressional campaign???

Maybe we should throw a fake election and figure out a way to trick the high dollar campaign spenders into giving their money to a good cause. LOL thought you were gonna be a senator but turns out you're feeding hungry children. Them's the breaks.
posted by phunniemee at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not crazy about the proposal, but I'm intrigued by the presentation. I do these sorts of things (online advocacy projects) for a living, and my gut says that the presentation will get it a lot of "viral" attention (sorry, I hate that word as much as anyone), but there will be a huge dropoff from site visits to actual actions because of all the scrolling (there's a reason most online petitions are so short) and technical issues with users who don't have the latest browser/high-speed internet.
posted by lunasol at 12:00 PM on May 1, 2013


oh, it specifically expects you to use the up and down arrows to scroll, and behaves oddly if you use page down or the scroll wheel. Interesting.

Scroll wheel worked fine for me. I guess the animation wasn't quite as smooth as dragging the scrollbar.
posted by baf at 12:04 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was like scrolling to the bottom of a Metafilter election thread..
posted by HuronBob at 12:07 PM on May 1, 2013


This is just to say that the scrolly presentation thing works brilliantly on my smartphone. Perhaps that is its intended primary viewing platform.
posted by Scientist at 12:08 PM on May 1, 2013


HERE’S HOW
The American Anti-corruption Act gives $100 to each voter every election cycle, to invest in politicians they believe in.


Nodding my head in agreement, but I stopped reading here. I give it an F minus.
posted by resurrexit at 12:11 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


boo_radley: "oh, it specifically expects you to use the up and down arrows to scroll, and behaves oddly if you use page down or the scroll wheel. Interesting. "

The scroll wheel worked fine for me on Chrome for Windows 7.
posted by brundlefly at 12:18 PM on May 1, 2013


I must disagree with the notion that corrupting money and influence peddling in politics is somehow un-American. Rather, any review will show it has been an integral part of our governance since our inception. I also fail to see how handing $100 for dispersal to an electorate that is easily misled to vote against its own best interests time and again could ever be a good idea. Lobbyists may have an agenda but at least they are semi-informed, work both sides of the aisle and tend to make good on their promises...
posted by jim in austin at 12:18 PM on May 1, 2013




I've often wondered why we can't just have a dollar amount cap on campaign spending.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:09 PM on May 1, 2013


If this is roughly the same bill the Lawrence Lessig outlined near the end of Republic, Lost, then it's an excellent idea that is not being communicated properly by this page.

Short version: the bill Lessig was promoting (which he didn't invent, it's been kicking around a while) states that the first $100 of every American's taxes will be set aside for campaigning. Meaning it's not money you could spend, it's government money, but it goes directly to politicians, and every American who is taxed more than $100 has an equal voice. You then get to decide where that $100 goes, and if you don't put it towards a politician, it defaults towards infrastructure.

Point is, since the money in this system is funded by the public, and since $100 for every taxpayer in the country is impossibly more money than lobbyists can raise, it focuses politicians away from pleasing corporate interests and towards pleasing the public, which is supposed to be their their job.

The argument for why this is more pressing than campaign caps or overthrowing Citizens United is because, as long as the money's in politics, you can't push anything through Congress that corporate interest doesn't like. Since such a bill would help free politicians from corporations without kneecapping their ability to get elected, it's a rather critical first step.

I'd have to investigate further to see if this is actually the same bill proposed by Lessig, but if it is, I'm really fucking enthusiastically in favor.
posted by Peevish at 1:15 PM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


It links to the Act, and yeah it's pretty good. It's not just "here's more money", it has some pretty specific proposals about barring distortative effects.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:19 PM on May 1, 2013


Campaign finance reform could have some beneficial effects, even if it isn't completely clear that money buys elections or influence instead of supporting the already viable and inclined.

But for a while I've been wondering if campaign finance isn't even the really hard problem involving the influence of money.

The hard problem, as I see it, may be this: people with lots of money can afford to hire others -- perhaps many others -- to *spend time* influencing both congress and the public. In its most direct form, this means it's someone's full-time job to communicate with members of congress and their staff and convince them to adopt some policy position (while most citizens will never attempt any contact, and the few who do will rarely do more than send the occasional letter/email). We call this lobbying and we're afraid of it because it's something we don't do and don't think we can.

In its less direct but probably at least as influential form, it's someone's full-time job to do research backing up policy, someone's job to write articles and books explaining them, someone's job to get those ideas out to elected officials, political party members, and not least into the minds of the public.

There's money being spent to get many people to work hard to influence the way *you* think -- and you and I have probably been "hacked" in this manner. The effort is higher for people with more influence. This is different from money handed directly to congress, and even if you could magically eliminate the money handed directly to congress, or anonymize it, or publicly back it, or whatever, you'd still have this other problem.

If there's an answer to this problem, I suspect it's more unpaid but thoughtful lobbyists. Whether the population supports such a thing, I don't know.
posted by weston at 1:22 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Welp, they're repping Lessig's TED Talk at the bottom, so I'm thinking it's the same plan.
posted by Peevish at 1:23 PM on May 1, 2013


I like the end result but the concept is a little wacky. We just simply need publicly funded elections. Funded by a small tax from us, and BIG tax on the 1 percenters. They can still pay for elections like before, but this time they have to put their faith in the American populace.
posted by zardoz at 1:42 PM on May 1, 2013


I always think how hilarious it is that such small amounts of money are so influential. I mean, $5 million should be the cost of taking a leader of a powerful nation out for coffee, not of being a major influence on their policy decisions. But I guess there is sort of a mutually assured destruction aspect -- you don't want to spend $100 million on lobbying if you know your opponent can spend $200 million, so both sides back off and spend almost nothing.

Minnesota has a $50 per person credit for campaign donations! Just donate $50 to a candidate and send your receipt in with your tax return, and you get $50 extra on your tax refund. Even most people who live here don't know that though.
posted by miyabo at 2:30 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the end result but the concept is a little wacky. We just simply need publicly funded elections.

Isn't this proposal basically publicly funded elections, with the public funding directed by individual citizens rather than professional bureaucrats following rules set by the politicians themselves?

I actually kinda like this proposal. It's simple enough for anyone to understand, and it's goal is to magnify the influence of the powerless to competitive levels rather than hobble those who have "too much" influence (in some random person's biased* opinion) by creating a complex set of regulations that will only work and be fair in fantasy land.

* We are all biased.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 2:55 PM on May 1, 2013


This seems like a fairly brilliant idea, actually, that would appear to get over the usual first amendment hurdles.
posted by shivohum at 5:17 PM on May 1, 2013


Point is, since the money in this system is funded by the public, and since $100 for every taxpayer in the country is impossibly more money than lobbyists can raise, it focuses politicians away from pleasing corporate interests and towards pleasing the public

How would this change anything? Today, politicians already have to "please the public" in order to get votes; they do this by spending advertising money. Wouldn't this scheme just result in lobbyists and politicians running ads to influence peoples' $100 contributions? Then whoever was successful at that would have even more money to continue advertising for the votes themselves.
posted by hattifattener at 10:52 PM on May 1, 2013


I am under the understanding that the money you raise for campaigning becomes yours at the end, tax free.

If true, why would the average Congress-kritter want to lower the amount they drag in?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:20 AM on May 2, 2013


That hasn't been true for about 20 years.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:22 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this scheme just result in lobbyists and politicians running ads to influence peoples' $100 contributions? Then whoever was successful at that would have even more money to continue advertising for the votes themselves.

My hope is that the public is more astute at discerning bullshit than congress.
posted by pashdown at 6:15 AM on May 2, 2013


Throwing more money at the problem of money's toxic effect on democracy seems counterproductive. Some things, like government, can't and shouldn't be run by the market. We have a right to good government by and for the people -- it needn't cost anything.

So in short get the money out of the process.
posted by nowhere man at 6:22 AM on May 2, 2013


That's easy to say, but how? Force tv networks to give everybody running for elections free commercial time? That dog is unlikely to hunt.
posted by rifflesby at 8:27 AM on May 2, 2013


That's easy to say, but how? Force tv networks to give everybody running for elections free commercial time? That dog is unlikely to hunt.

Actually, we used to (within my lifetime) require licensed broadcasters to dedicate a set number of hours of broadcast time to public broadcasts (basically anything the Federal government wanted them to broadcast) as a condition of broadcast licensing. And yes, that dog did hunt. We actually still require broadcasters to allot time for carrying political debates as a condition of licensure.

In terms of the FCC's regulation of public broadcasters and a whole slew of other things, America used to be a hell of a lot more "socialist" than we are today. It's a travesty that nobody realizes that anymore.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:28 PM on May 6, 2013


My hope is that the public is more astute at discerning bullshit than congress.

Given that the voting public elects congress, it'd seem this hope is largely dependent on the discerning capacities of the non-voting public.

Though... I guess it's possible that the plurality system is a significant part of the problem with how the voting public selects officials, and maybe a finance system that's closer to approval voting (I assume people could split their $100) would help.
posted by weston at 1:31 PM on May 6, 2013


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