Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More Reforms?

Speaking of campaign finance and general government reform, a couple articles in the paper today talk of even more efforts to clean up politics:

This one talks about creating a citizens assembly that will be formed to come up with some workable ideas for reforming state government. A couple state assemblymen want this group to work on ideas such as independent redistricting and proportional representation, to name of couple of issues. I wonder if they'll include Instant Runoff Voting? It will be interesting to see if anything useful comes from this. I don't have a lot of faith that creating what amounts to a new 160 member committee will accomplish much.

This one talks about a proposal pending with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors dealing with publicly financed elections. I don't have much faith in that idea, either. In fact, I see no benefit at all from this one, especially after reading the short story I've linked to here. Looks to me like a candidate has to have support from a significant segment of the voter population to be eligible for funding. The candidate has to raise something like $25,000 from 250 people to qualify for public funding and then they get more and more money, based on some scale, as they raise more money. So what's the point?

Seems to me it comes down to the better known candidates, the ones with the most support and thus already a financial advantage, getting an even bigger financial advantage because they can get more money from the public than their lesser known opponents because they raised more money in the first place. Unless I'm reading it wrong, that doesn't make any sense at all. Why not just let the candidates do the same fund raising they'd do under this plan and just leave out the public subsidies? Either way the higher profile candidates with the most money maintain their advantage.

This is just more of the same of this campaign finance reform stuff that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It doesn't accomplish anything in the short or long run and just ends up making it a bigger hassle for candidates to run for office. It probably has something to do with this thing we have about democracy and that old politicians are a bunch of bums so let's elect a different set of bums and we'll fix the problem...mentality. I'm not against trying to make things work better, but I think many of these reform proposals, if not an illusion, might just make things worse.

In closing, maybe a bit off topic for this post, but a neat quote on voting that someone named Bob Evans made in a comment on my hearthrob, Ilana Mercer's blog. I've said the same thing using a lot more words. Wish I'd wrote this:

"What’s more, the process of voting (or democracy in general) normally results in less freedom, not more. After all, the underlying goal of the voting process is to legitimize or justify power (the “right” to initiate force) — not to denounce it or expose how it will be used to wrong others."- Bob Evans


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