Bottom Line Up Front: Several decisions have been made that attempt to reduce the individual’s voice; these cannot be allowed to stand, regardless of what party they benefit. We must be fair, even when it hurts, if we are to have a true representative democracy.
Our current campaign problems are complex. Donors to our political leaders can remain largely anonymous, and our representatives can split areas that might vote against them, weakening the voices of the people they are supposed to represent. We have to address both of those problems if we are going to reform how we elect our officials.
Let’s look at the first issue: Hidden money.
In order to get a message out to people, you need money (or a whole lot of other people). You need money for signs, ads, TV, radio, travel and all of the other methods campaigns use to get their message out to voters. Up until six years ago, corporations had limits on how much money they could donate to a campaign. After the landmark decision of Citizens United vs. FEC, spending by corporations became virtually unlimited. Further, corporations can donate to a “Super Political Action Committee” or Super PAC, that does not have to disclose who gave them money. The Super PAC donates the money to the candidates of choice. As a result, we don’t know who is funding, and probably benefiting from, a candidate’s decisions.
Not surprisingly, when people could no longer easily find out who was donating to a candidate, and businesses had the ability to make unlimited donations, money (big donor money) skyrocketed. When your representative is not representing you, but rather the large company that donated large funds to him, you get decisions that benefit the big donor. For instance, your representative may say that, “Canned goods are just as good as fresh for school lunches,” at the same time that he accepts a large donation from a canned goods manufacturer from out of state. Does it do his people any good? No, but it probably gets him more money to run his campaign.
How do you overcome Super PACs and corporate money? With people. People are stronger than money. We the People have no idea how strong our voices. Do you know how many votes a big donor has? Just one, and not even that if they aren’t in the Congressperson’s district. But what businesses do have is the ability to buy influence, usually in commercials. Ask yourself, what are you more likely to believe, a good friend that says “Hey, this is really good!” or an ad that tells you something is good? You, spreading the message of a candidate you value, is more powerful than money.
The second problem is ‘Redistricting’, also known as gerrymandering. Redistricting is the practice of splitting up a concentrated group of people to favor one party or class of people. Three counties have been divided up in Indiana’s 4th Congressional district. Dividing up those counties (Boone, Howard and Morgan) prevents them from acting as a unified counties in elections. Not surprisingly, these counties have a majority of people in the same party. Both parties have been guilty of benefiting from gerrymandering, but it is not fair to the people of those counties, and it has to stop. Someone has to do the right thing and stand up against gerrymandering; I’m willing to be that someone.
There is more, but those are the two problems creating a corrupt system that does not represent you, the constituents, the way it is supposed to. Let’s fix these issues and return power to the people.