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March 11, 2006

Beware Krempasky, Servant of Corruption

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

A couple days ago, Mike Krempasky at RedState mocked a group promoting public financing of elections, which had (for whatever reason) bought an ad on his site.

For the record - this policy idea is one of the dumbest ever. It will never pass. It should never pass. It's potentially the worst thing I can imagine happening to our election system - the complete removal of any market or jury forces from the selection of appropriate and viable political ideas.

According to Krempasky, the worst thing that could happen to our election system is that wealthy interests would lose their ability to control political debates. I didn't think that anybody actually held this view, but there it is. Only ideas that satisfy well-funded special interests should be considered. On this view, corruption isn't a danger -- it's an ideal.

That's why Krempasky's alliance with Kos to pass the Online Freedom of Speech Act gives me the shivers.

In their letter to Congress, Kos and Krempasky argue that the legislation won't create any new loopholes by which wealthy interests can, say, buy a bunch of banner ads for a candidate:

H.R. 1606 does not create any "loopholes". As FEC Chairman Michael Toner (R) has stated, the charge that H.R. 1606 would somehow allow federal candidates to coordinate with corporations and unions to spend soft money funds to purchase Internet banner and video ads on behalf of candidates "has no legal foundation."

I'm a werewolf, not a lawyer, so I really can't speak to the merits of the legislation. Maybe they're right, and the Act doesn't create new loopholes by which big money can influence politics. But I'd like to know more about how this legislation works. Whenever you see your opponent argue for a complicated piece of legislation by saying that it won't do the thing that they actually want, it's time to be nervous.

I have no problem with empowering online activists on both sides. But I really don't want to strengthen the dark powers that Krempasky serves. So somebody else has got to tell me what to think of this Online Freedom of Speech Act. Any takers?

March 11, 2006 in Elections | Permalink

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Tracked on Mar 13, 2006 11:36:28 AM

Comments

Krempasky vs. the Werewolf could be the name of a great '50s B-movie.

Posted by: Pepper | Mar 11, 2006 1:21:55 PM

Huh, maybe I should've made that the title.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 11, 2006 1:40:08 PM

No, Neil - your premise is faulty. First, "wealthy" interests don't control our politics. AARP doesn't carry that much weight because they give money.

There's a reason that the amount of money a candidate can RAISE (not self-fund) is so often used as proxy for their support in a constiuency. If you can't convince someone to write you a check - why in the heck should people take you seriously when you ask for their vote?

And if you really want to get wound up - consider this: Republicans have been DRUMMING Democrats for 40 years in fundraising - not because they have more big donors (actually, you guys do), but because they run rings around you in small dollar fundraising.

Posted by: Mike Krempasky | Mar 11, 2006 4:29:55 PM

And if you really want to get wound up - consider this: Republicans have been DRUMMING Democrats for 40 years in fundraising - not because they have more big donors (actually, you guys do), but because they run rings around you in small dollar fundraising.

Let's take this assertion by Krempasky at face value (always something dangerous to do with a Republican operative, but let's do it anyway). It suggests 2 things that perhaps ought to be discussed:

1) The Republicans play to their base, who in turn feel loved, and pony up. By comparison, the Democrats play to the Republicans' base (corporations and cultural revanchists), and the Dem base says "fuck it". One can thank the DLC (now institutionalized in Dem DC for that trick.

2) Krempasky also fails to mention the coopting of the fundamentalist churches by the Republican Party as well as the billions of dollars spent by independently wealthy ideologues to build a message machine on which the Republican Party has piggybacked their message to all of those small donors. I would probably count the explicitly political (I don't care what the tax status of AEI or Heritage is) funding by the various Dominionist/Corporatist foundations as contributions toward the Republican Party. Similarly, one really has to count News Corp's investment in Fox News (which they have yet to get back, near as I can tell) as a contribution to the Republican Party.

Posted by: paperwight | Mar 11, 2006 5:38:05 PM

There's a very good reason why Republicans have traditionally beat Democrats in small-donor fundraising. It's because "small donors" aren't small earners. The working poor haven't been writing off $100 checks to anybody. Small donors are generally in the upper middle class -- below that level, you're probably not a donor at all.

If you can't convince someone to write you a check - why in the heck should people take you seriously when you ask for their vote?

Simple! Because you'll do a lot of good for the people who don't have enough money to write checks.

Mike, this gets to the bottom of what I think is utterly bizarre about your view. Why should anyone think that money is a good filter on policy ideas? Policies that are a huge help to the poor masses, while being slightly detrimental to a small number of rich people, will never get heard if you filter policy ideas by how much financial support they can accumulate. Much suffering will continue for very little gain.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 11, 2006 6:17:34 PM

Mike, this gets to the bottom of what I think is utterly bizarre about your view.

Actually, I think Krempasky is to be congratulated for being honest about the real constituency of the Republican Party. There's nothing bizarre about his views, unless you think that citizenship shouldn't be dependent on your ability to pay cash on the barrelhead for the services you want, devil take the hindmost.

Once you get rid of that silly notion, you see clearly that what we call corruption today is really just being ahead of the privatization curve. Whatever you can pay for, you can have. Simple. Krempasky's just honest about it, same as Duke Cunningham.

Posted by: paperwight | Mar 11, 2006 7:15:14 PM

Paperwight I trust you didn't hurt yourself, havcing embedded tongue in cheek so vigorously.

Posted by: opit | Mar 11, 2006 7:27:20 PM

Actually, opit, I think that's a fair summation of the current Republican philosophy of governance (if one can even use the words "Republican" and "governance" in the same sentence without some kind of apocalyptic matter-antimatter explosion). It's not my fault if it reads like satire. The Republicans killed satire years ago.

Posted by: paperwight | Mar 11, 2006 7:55:56 PM

My goodness, if anyone thought republicans have a monopoly on hyperbole, this out to dispose of that silly notion. 25 dollars does not a george soros make.

And the shame is - you folks have so much great potential to involve your own grassroots in the same way - certainly you don't howl when the so-called netroots make a big fat statement by dropping a ton of small donations on a worthy candidate. It's a good thing - just don't be jealous that you're playing catch up.

Posted by: krempasky | Mar 11, 2006 8:05:29 PM

It's because "small donors" aren't small earners. The working poor haven't been writing off $100 checks to anybody. Small donors are generally in the upper middle class -- below that level, you're probably not a donor at all.

Exactly. And how about we measure a candidate's ability to connect with voters by the number of votes the candidate gets rather than the number of dollars? Under our current system, I have no problem with national interests getting involved in statewide campaigns. However, I would rather that the various interest groups not spend money they raised in San Francisco or Atlanta going to people running for office in Podunk, Kansas or wherever.

Arizona has had public financing - of a sort - for several years now, and it has worked quite well. There are fewer uncontested races - competition is good, right? Even the tone has, at times, started to change.

I'd like to see a complete ban on political spending of any kind except for candidates and parties, with public funding of all elections - at least at the federal level. Make the money available to other parties too, as long as they are registered and field a candidate. More ideas, more choices and less monetary manipulation is a great idea.

Honestly. The idea of determining political viability by dollar amounts is ridiculous. If we did this in all areas of our society, there would be no Microsoft, no Wendy's, no Apple, no Google, the Wright brothers would have never been able to leave their bicycle shop - and on and on of innovators who did not come from already-wealthy families that had the means to provide "legitimacy" to their ideas. How about we set up a hereditary monarchy/aristocracy while we're at it?

Posted by: Stephen | Mar 11, 2006 9:23:55 PM

It's because "small donors" aren't small earners. The working poor haven't been writing off $100 checks to anybody. Small donors are generally in the upper middle class -- below that level, you're probably not a donor at all.

Exactly. And how about we measure a candidate's ability to connect with voters by the number of votes the candidate gets rather than the number of dollars? Under our current system, I have no problem with national interests getting involved in statewide campaigns. However, I would rather that the various interest groups not spend money they raised in San Francisco or Atlanta going to people running for office in Podunk, Kansas or wherever.

Arizona has had public financing - of a sort - for several years now, and it has worked quite well. There are fewer uncontested races - competition is good, right? Even the tone has, at times, started to change.

I'd like to see a complete ban on political spending of any kind except for candidates and parties, with public funding of all elections - at least at the federal level. Make the money available to other parties too, as long as they are registered and field a candidate. More ideas, more choices and less monetary manipulation is a great idea.

Honestly. The idea of determining political viability by dollar amounts is ridiculous. If we did this in all areas of our society, there would be no Microsoft, no Wendy's, no Apple, no Google, the Wright brothers would have never been able to leave their bicycle shop - and on and on of innovators who did not come from already-wealthy families that had the means to provide "legitimacy" to their ideas. How about we set up a hereditary monarchy/aristocracy while we're at it?

Posted by: Stephen | Mar 11, 2006 9:24:22 PM

BTW, apropos of nothing, I've come to the conclusion that the only reason people won't vote Democrat is the perception of higher taxes. Not gay marriage, not national security, not values. In pure electability terms, probably the best speech Pelosi could make is "Some idiotic people on the exteme left want to raise your taxes. Frankly, that's the most silly-ass idea I've ever heard in my entire life. With our pro-growth policies, we're going to lower your taxes, not raise them"

Talking purely of electability, of course. Substantively, there's massive cognitive dissonance on this issue from the American people. They like Bill Clinton's management of the economy, they don't like deficits, but they refuse to believe that tax cuts have anything to do with any of that. "Leave the tax cuts alone, leave the tax cuts out of this. What did the tax cuts ever do to you?"

I'd be interested to hear Bill Clinton's take on the tax issue. Also, watch the the old SNL skit of Phil Hartman interviewing Walter Mondale. Then watch it again.

Posted by: roublen | Mar 12, 2006 8:58:42 AM

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Posted by: peterwei | Oct 22, 2007 7:11:18 AM

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