Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mayday.us is leading the charge to get big money out of politics

I just finished watching this video by Larry Lessig, the leader of the the Mayday.us SuperPAC, a political action committee dedicated to ending all SuperPACs. The single purpose of this SuperPAC is to get big money out of politics. To put it more succinctly, to paraphrase the words of the Supreme Court, to make our elected representatives dependent upon the people and the people alone - not big donors to political campaigns.

Larry is one of the coolest people in politics today. He has a firm grasp of technology, law and politics. He's been around longer than I have and has seen people come and go. He knows where we've been and where we're going if we don't change course. He is, in my opinion, the ultimate peaceful activist.

Since he is a law professor, I think it's cool that he can mount a legal defense of a copyright challenge to any of the videos he posts on YouTube. He is a notable figure in the free software movement and is a very passionate and persuasive speaker. He seems perfect for the leadership position he alone has created.

The single purpose of Mayday.us is to fund candidates who will work to enact fundamental campaign finance reform. Here is a list of candidates that Mayday.us supported in the last midterm. Every candidate on the list has made a firm commitment to enact fundamental campaign finance reform to remove the corrupting influence of money in Congress in order to receive support from this SuperPAC.

The Mayday.us FAQ shows that they are non-partisan, that they are sticking to a single issue: getting big money donors out of politics. That single purpose attitude is what I like most about this SuperPAC, and that attitude allows the organization to stay focused on one goal, without a whit of deference to partisan politics.

The ramifications of true campaign finance reform are tremendous in a very positive way in just about every part of government. Consider for just a minute what that would to do antitrust law. One reason we have giant monopolies running most of our major industries is unlimited or unregulated campaign contributions. Contributors can remain anonymous and the amounts they can give are unlimited when they are anonymous. This greasing of the palms has allowed mergers and acquisitions to proceed, unabated, promoting the consolidation of entire industries at the expense of the consumer to the point that 10 parent companies produce nearly everything we consume.

Even before Citizens United, this has been going on for a long time, as over the years, the courts have been chipping away at campaign finance laws to remove the limits we once had, or affirmed that under the current policy, there were no limits.

Without effective regulation of campaign contributions, it's easy for a monopoly like Microsoft or just a very large company like General Electric, to use money to get a soft touch from regulators and policymakers.

Creating a policy that requires elected office holders to rely upon many people for many small contributions rather than a few very deep pockets, means that candidates will have to support policies that have a much broader appeal. You know, populist. When we create incentives for candidates to appeal to a much broader audience, they will have to promote policy ideas that actually have merit.

Take the recent budget bill that is still in transit through Congress to avoid a partial shutdown of the government. Some of the provisions, like allowing even greater gambling on Wall Street with funds that are federally insured funds in consumer checking and savings accounts, and giving Apache land to a foreign corporation for exploitation - are simply ludicrous.

It's clear that the riders on that spending bill had two purposes. The first is obvious - payback to their sponsors. The second is not so easily seen - the riders are so odious that if the opposition fights them, and the spending bill fails to pass, and the government shuts down, who will get blamed?

At the same time, anyone looking at the riders will know that these provisions offer no consideration for all of the American people. They're embarrassing. But if the American people had any power to remove people who are sitting in what are effectively safe seats, compromise would be a word in common usage in public discourse on Meet The Press and Face The Nation.

The only way to fix Congress is to start with how they fund their campaigns so that members have to listen to the rest of us. Without that, we have what is essentially taxation without representation. When members of Congress are dependent on the people alone to fund their campaigns, we will once again have a Congress that works - for all of us.
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