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Friday, March 02, 2007

Campaign Finance Reform and a Motivated Electorate

I am sick and tired of some things in our democracy. 1. Obscene amounts of money spent on campaigns. 2. People not voting. One of my political science profs in college said America was governed by an apathocracy. I think that he had a point. Here is my plan (stolen mostly from Larry James Blog):

1. Institue a lottery in which voting enters you into the lottery.
2. All money raised for campaigns requires a dollar for dollar match of raised funds for the lottery (applies to candidates, parties, and Swift Boat/Move On types of organizations as well).
3. $50 fine for not voting, which also adds to the lottery money.
4. $100 Tax credit for voting.
5 . Lottery dollars are awarded in $1000 pieces according to how much money is raised.

Think about this for a minute. Voter turnout would surge. Poor people, who typically do not vote because their vote "doesn't matter" are given a chance to matter, even if it only for a tax credit and a shot at $1000 (bt I think they would come with their values as well).

Yes, this might be considered coersion, but let's look at it from the opposite perspective. So much has been to suppress and discourage voting that going overboard in the other direction couldn't be as bad, could it? Why not encourage voting with incentives even if you think your candidate is going to lose?

I bet this would transform the American political system back into a democracy.

Let's run some numbers. Let's say there are one billion dollars raised for the 2008 presidential campaign, which in total is likely to be a low estimate when Senate and Hose campaigns are taken into consideration and with Obama and Clinton alone accounting for $200,000,000.

$1,000,000,000 in the lottery makes 1 million winners of $1000. That's ends up being abot a 1 in 150 shot at a thousand bucks. Not bad odds compared to POWERBALL and MEGAMILLIONS.

What do yo think?

11 comments:

MichaelPolutta said...

I like the suggestions to get folks involved. I would totally support that voter lottery!

However, America is a representative republic, not a democracy. We cannot "transform the American political system back into" something it never was. A pure democracy can also be described as "mob rule." Truly a terrible way to run a country or government. I thank God that we do not have a democracy.

Fajita said...

Aha. We are a representative republic. Thanks for the correction.

Dan said...

These kinds of things have been discussed to death in political science classes. The problem with this system is that people, especially poor people, will not care who they vote for as long as they get the monetary incentives. Voting without doing the research and hearing the candidates is just plain bad for our country.

Fajita said...

Dan, with all due respect, many people vote already who do not do the research. They just vote for a party, or because the candidte looks a certain way, of because of a sound bite, or because of his or her race or gender or whatever.

Furthermore, what evidence is there that poor people won't come to the polls any more or less informed than the people who do come already?

Beyond that, there is no legal level of knowledge or research required for voting. There is no legal ground for this objection.

On the contrary, I think that it would spur more research by poor people (and other current low turn out populations), not less.

In my opinion, both democrats and republicans really don't care all that much if poor people stay home from the polls. If republicans and democrats knew that poor people and low turn out populations would be likely voters, you'd get a whole new kind of push to educate them on how to vote.

Political parties would notice the poor if they parties knew their existence depended on them.

Len said...

The tax incentive might be good. We already have the $3.00 contribution to the Presidential campaign on the Federal tax form.
However, imposing a fine for not voting sounds a bit over the top and would just require more legal red tape and bureaucracy to inforce.

Phil from Minnetonka said...

Have you read A Parliament of Whores by P. J. O'Rourke? The gist is that the problem with our government is precisely that it's formed of the people. Voters want lower taxes and more services. They vote for people who promise to lower taxes and provide more services. Those pols are lying. We know it. They know it. But we won't vote for them if they don't. So in the end we get exactly what we want.

That said, I also believe there are improvements to be made.

1. How about this - ALL business is closed on voting day. Everyone (except essential public transportation and peace officers) has the whole day off. A national holiday to vote.
2. All candidates (not just the major parties) get the same amount of TV/radio time.
3. Completely reform the debate process. It is currently a joke. Everything is contrived and premeditated. And only the major parties participate.

All I can think of for now.

Fajita said...

Yes, the fine is a bit much, but the do it in Australia, so it is not totally unfathomable.

I've not heard of the Parliment of Whores, but the name is certainly provocative enough to get me curious. I really like the voter holiday, debate and broadcast reform.

How would we hold news organization's feet to the fire? News organizations do not use equal treatment of candidates, they judge on "newsworthiness" I believe, which is pretty much a subjective art subject to massive bias.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea...make it easier for people to make more informed voting decisions, thus improving our democracy...

www.ExpertVoter.org

Thoughts?

gary

Val said...

I love that you said Senate and Hose campaigns. I truly believe we all get hosed in such campaigns. As someone who is firmly entrenched in the "Cynic Party" camp, I think I will feel a little more confident if we ever get term limits. How interesting it would be to see elected officials govern instead of constantly run for office. Nah, it'll never happen.

Dan said...

These kinds of things have been discussed to death in political science classes. The problem with this system is that people, especially poor people, will not care who they vote for as long as they get the monetary incentives. Voting without doing the research and hearing the candidates is just plain bad for our country.

MichaelPolutta said...

I like the suggestions to get folks involved. I would totally support that voter lottery!

However, America is a representative republic, not a democracy. We cannot "transform the American political system back into" something it never was. A pure democracy can also be described as "mob rule." Truly a terrible way to run a country or government. I thank God that we do not have a democracy.