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Monday, October 18, 2010

Money & Politics

Local Elections,
National Fundraising

"All politics is local."

--Tip O'Neill

"Most politics is national."

--Fritz Hollings

Former South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings makes a great case for campaign finance reform.

In a piece titled, "Money is a Cancer in Politics," Hollings notes the oceans of money needed to wage competitive campaigns for Congress today -- much of it raised from outside the district being contested.

So, political lightning rods like Michelle Bachmann can now raise millions weekly from around the country by tapping into (unrestricted) corporate and PAC money. (Thanks, Supreme Court).

Ditto for Bachmann's counterparts on the left, such as Nancy Pelosi.

Indeed, as Hollings' article points out, even rank-and-file Congressional races are flooded with outside money today.

Lack of (Political) Standing

If you live in Anoka or Buffalo or St. Cloud or any other city actually within Minnesota's Sixth District and want to contribute to Bachmann (or any other candidate for that seat), that should be your right.

But why should someone living in -- say, Peoria, Illinois -- effectively have a voice in who represents St. Cloud in Congress?

And vice versa.

The judicial system long ago developed a concept to deal with this problem

Called "legal standing," it means you can't bring a suit over an issue unless you have a personal stake in it.

It seems obvious that our political system needs something analogous (call it "political standing").

But so, too, does it seem obvious that corporations cannot be legal persons (they are), and that it's stupidity to allow corporations to make unlimited campaign contributions (they can).

P.S.: hat tip to Ned Krahl for forwarding the Hollings article.

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