Bad Employees, Super PACs, & Our Founding Fathers.

Bad Employees, Super PACs, & Our Founding Fathers.

by Doyle Ranstrom on Oct 16, 2020

If you owned a business and had an employee who works for you, you pay him a salary, but he takes money from outside groups which influences how he does his job for you, would you be happy?  Of course not, and the whole scenario seems unbelievable.  

But is it, think again.  Where does all the money come to fund political candidates?  And while doing this, remember, elected politicians are paid by taxpayers and work for all of us   

The Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog, found in the 2018 election cycle, less than 8 percent of the total campaign funds raised by winning U.S. House candidates came from small individual donations of $200 or less.

Individuals running for Congress receive support for their election from lots of areas including, wealthy individuals, PACs, and Super PACs, and my favorite dark money.  Super PACs cannot give money directly to a candidate but can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money either in support or attacking a candidate.  Dark money refers to spending meant to influence political outcomes where the source of the money is not disclosed.  The tragedy for democracy is those running for National office are spending all their time raising money and once the money is raised, are beholden to those supporters. 

Can you imagine George, Thomas, James, and Ben sitting around having a cold one in their celestial residence and the topic of US democracy comes up?  George asks how democracy is doing in the US.  Thomas replies a large number of elections are determined by who raises the most money.  "Say what," says James, “where does the money come from”?  PACs, Super PACs, and dark money replied Thomas.  What's a PAC asks George.  A PAC is a political action committee which can give money directly to a candidate while a Super PAC spends unlimited amounts of money say nice things about the candidate they support and mean things about the candidate they're against which are called attack ads.  “Is what they say true”?  “Rarely, if ever”, said Thomas.   

How can this happen says George?  Well, says Thomas, a few years earlier the Supreme Court gave the PACs and Super the right of free speech.  At this point, Ben who had been following the conversation intensely was so surprised to hear a committee had been given the right of free speech, fainted, and fell off his bar stool. 

It's even worse said Thomas. Super PACs can run ads supporting or attacking anyone in any state.  Do you mean someone in South Carolina can run attacking a candidate in Massachusetts asked George?  Why would any state let someone who does not live there influence their elections?  It makes no sense said Thomas and they spend a lot of money.  How much asked James.  Well, in the current election cycle, as of 10/16/2020 Super PACs have spent almost $1.3 Billion dollars trying to influence elections. 

Sadly, at this point, Ben who was just waking up heard $1.3 Billion and fainted again.  When he woke up the second time asked why they don't spend this money on something good like education, health care, and scientific research.  Thomas said the country would be much better if they did, but sadly, much of this money is spent advocating against education, health care, and science.  Ben, as a well-educated thoughtful intellectual, upon hearing this fainted a third time.  

George said, let me get this straight.  We defeated the greatest power on earth, went through unimaginable hardships with thousands of our countrymen killed and thousands more injured so in the US today, committees have free speech, and these committees spend unlimited amounts of money running ads in any and all states influencing elections even if they do not live there.  Pretty much said, Thomas.  George then said, barkeep, bring another round, and keep them coming.  

Obviously, I made all this up, but I do truly believe our founding fathers would be very disappointed in how we as a country have let our elections be influenced and often determined by large amounts of money and special interests. 

I truly believe the only solution is to pass an additional amendment to the Constitution which states only individuals can give money up to a maximum amount to a political campaign and to do so, the individual's primary residence must be in the same district as the Congressional election and of course the state for Senate.  No outside money can be allowed to promote one candidate or attacking another.  If a candidate's name is mentioned, the ad is illegal.    

Among the many benefits of this proposed amendment, one of the most important is individuals running for political office in a district or state will be financially dependent on their constituents and will have to listen and connect with them to be successful.  Members of Congress work for us, are paid by us as taxpayers, taking money, large amounts of money, from outside groups to be elected has no value to us and should be considered to be unethical.   

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