Great feedback to my last post – thanks!  What I think the comments reveal is that this topic really begs the question of campaign finance reform generally.  Many of you suggest that caps on total spending or public financing might be the more important places to direct our attention.  We need to find a way to select good candidates from the population – and I am skeptical that looking to their previous income is a good proxy for how good a public servant they will be.  (Or maybe I’m uncomfortable with the negative inference there – I’m not ready to say people who can’t afford to self-finance wouldn’t be good public servants). 

But I guess what underlies this topic is my hunch that money influences not only who chooses to run for office and who wins but also significantly how they act once they get in positions of power.  Maybe that thought is not particularly revolutionary, but perhaps it does structure the way we can think about what matters in campaign finance reform debates – and in accusations that self-financers are bad for politics.   

6 Comments

  1. Craig Dunkerley

    December 11, 2006 @ 5:47 pm

    1

    The problem with relying on “self-financers” is that that effectively turns our government over to the wealthy, to the exclusion of everyone else. The message it sends is that non-wealthy people with great ideas and a passion for public service NEED NOT APPLY. How much money you have…or can raise…is a poor test for prospective leaders in a free society.

  2. Lauren

    December 17, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    2

    I on the whole agree with the author, but I have to ask whether it’s really only money and the source of the money that influences our public officials? When it comes down to it, whether they want to admit it or not, most officials are operating on at least some level out of the desire to be re-elected in the next cycle. If a special interest group, be it an environmentl lobby or a labor union, can deliver literally thousands of votes for a candidate the next time she’s on a ballot, wouldn’t it behoove her to listen to what they want, even if it’s not in the best interest of her district or goes against her own policy position? I guess my point is that special interests can influence policy in ways other than by simply opening up their check books.

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    3

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    4

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    April 26, 2007 @ 7:16 am

    5

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  6. Anonymous

    April 26, 2007 @ 7:18 am

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