The Supreme Court has done it again. It has ruled against a law limiting donations to politicians in McCutcheon v. FEC. Those who support the justices are thanking them for striking a blow for freedom of speech. Those who disagree are claiming the court has opened the door for rich folks to buy elections.
Whether one thinks donation limits are good or bad, donation limits will never solve the problems everyone seems to agree on: campaigns cost too much and politicians spend too much time raising campaign funds.
I can see two possible solutions to the campaign spending problem:
First, pass another law - a law directed at candidates rather than donors with a few simple provisions:
Prohibit elected officials and candidates from raising campaign funds except in the calendar year in which their office election is held, and make all donations public before the election. If the full donor list is not public by Election Day, the candidate is disqualified from the ballot.
Allow them to collect as much money as they can from one or many donors - no limits.
After the election any campaign funds left over must be donated to a public charity - no hold-overs.
Something like this would not only make election financing more fair than it is today, we the people might actually see representatives doing work that they are paid to do for at least one year out of every two, and senators might have to work for five years out of each of their terms.
Imagine how much money would be saved by keeping Air Force One on the ground for three out of four years.
I know those now holding office will see this proposal in the same high regard they see term limits, and since elected officials are the ones that will have to pass this law limiting their fundraising abilities, it will never happen.
I would prefer to see a law like this, but there is a second option that can do the same thing.
We voters can simply pay attention to what elected officials say when running for election and what they actually do if elected.
We can pay attention to how many times they are in Billy Bigbucks' home collecting donations from all of Billy's rich friends or traveling the world on "fact finding missions" versus how much time they are in their offices actually doing the work they promised to do.
And we can pay attention to how often they come to their home districts and actually talk to people.
We voters who don't have thousands of dollars to buy our personal congressman are still the majority in this country. We can all take a few minutes each day to listen to a radio station or a TV station, to hear what they're saying about "our guy."
Election Day is coming fast and there are multiple races all over South Carolina and the country with new faces running against established politicians.
All of them are going to spend as much money as they can to make each one of us remember their name on Election Day.
It is our duty as citizens to show them we do care about what they say and more importantly we care about what they do.
On Election Day, press the button for the person you know will do the job you expect.
Lowell H. Knouff
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