“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Following the Preamble, The Constitution went on to state what was the law of the land, even to the inclusion of how it might be changed. Rather quickly, they went about to make some amendments, particularly concerned about protecting the rights of individual citizens. While it is a profoundly marvelous document, it is the work of human beings, so perhaps perfection should not be presumed to be an automatic quality. For in spite of its lofty principles, it didn’t address matters of contributions to political campaigns–considered by many to be influence buying. The act of buying influence implies it is for sale. And influence peddling is by definition, an illegal practice.
But they did recognize that if religious groups were allowed to attain government authority and power to assert their way of worship become law, there would be no freedom of religion, or freedom of thought or expression of thought, therefore no freedom. So, those concerns were addressed specifically in the very first amendment they ever made.
Just as there is good reason to have a separation of church and state, there should also be a separation of state, and those who can afford to buy its influence. Some suggest we not allow corporations to donate money towards political campaigns. Those who hold to that opinion tend to believe such contributions constitute bribery. But why just corporations? What about partnerships or individuals? If it is in fact bribery, why should we allow anybody to do it? To bring about change will require serious campaign finance reform.
So should we build some kind of legal wall between the pocketbooks of office seekers and the pocketbooks of office buyers? Maybe we should. But we’ll never accomplish that wall as long as it is legal for anybody to “donate (bribe)” money to legislators. Right now, we allow the very people who accept the money, those who have willingly and knowingly sold their influence, to determine the extent and the legality of this practice. Just thinking it to be immoral or even unconscionable changes nothing. Right now, it is the way things are.
If you really want to change it, here’s what might have to be done:
1.) Make public funding available for political debates, and other forums where candidates the people would wish to nominate can state their position. Such as that is doable, and much cheaper than the way it is done now;
2.) Make it a felonious criminal offense to provide private funds or gifts of value to any officeholder or candidate for such, because doing so constitutes the intent to purchase their influence. Also, any individual, business or corporation that conducts business in a certain way at the request of an officeholder that shall be construed to be a benefit to “friends” of the officeholder, shall have their actions be officially seen as the equivalent of offering a bribe, *
3.) Punishment should be stern for both those who offer money as well as those who accept it. A prison sentence for all guilty parties should not be for any duration less than the term of the office in question, and that any and all monies offered shall not be returned to the giver, but instead, turned over to the treasury of the governance under which the particular office was to serve (this could be beneficial to school boards in poorer rural counties),
4.) Any person convicted of offering or receiving what should be considered a bribe, shall be barred for life from seeking or holding any sacred trust of public office, and as convicted felons, be relieved permanently of their right to vote regardless of any time served in prison for their offense,
5.) Any candidate, members of the candidate’s staff, or media organization that willingly and knowingly presents to the public any false or intentionally misleading statement intending to wrongfully affect the outcome of the election, shall face criminal perjury charges, and if convicted of such, be fully liable for damages that could be incurred by incumbents, other candidates seeking office, or the public at large,
6. Adopt and enforce a flat fair tax, without exceptions or exemptions or loopholes for any persons or groups of people for any reason whatsoever. This takes the demographic tax break games completely and forever off the table. Make it a constitutional amendment allowing for no alteration that would be interpreted to be a respecter of persons or groups of persons by or for any discriminatory reason or measure.
* It should still be legal for corporations, professional and trade associations, labor unions, and any other group of concerned citizens to partition and lobby in order to get the attention of an elected official. They should be free to state their reason for requesting an audience, but not allowed to contribute to anybody or anything that would be either a direct or indirect benefit to the officeholder or candidate for office.
How can we get politicians to ever agree to this? What if they knew nobody would vote for them if they didn’t? Now, you go figure out a way to convince the pubic at large that they even have that kind of power. If you’d like, you can form committees to amend what I’ve proposed. But considering the likelihood of compromise, it’s possible that in a fairly reasonable amount of time, we could come up with an alternate plan that will be not one whit better than the dysfunctional system we already have. And that might be the almost guaranteed outcome if we turn everything over to the wolves who currently “guard” the smokehouse.
Oh, by the way, since what I’ve proposed would be a radical move away from the status quo, and suggests what I believe would be a progressive change for the better, whether you, me, or anybody else likes it or not, it is a liberal proposition. But the “liberals” won’t like it, and neither will the “conservatives”. I don’t care. Most of them aren’t even very clear about what those terms mean, anyway.