We all just survived another election campaign season and I was again appalled at the gigantic sums of money spent to influence my vote. With the light voter turnout, the cost per vote keeps increasing. We voters keep getting bombarded by mailers that waste paper and add to our trash, robocall assaults on our landline phones to vote a particular way, and watching TV shows sandwiched between the political ads that are filled with soundbites and minimal discourse on issues. These are all examples of the vast dollars that could be used for providing universal comprehensive healthcare, quality education and improving our infrastructure.
In order to support this political economy, our legislators spend most of their time raising dollars instead of doing their job of passing legislation to help their constituents. They raise funds from individuals and political action committees (PACs) who feed their re-election campaigns. There are PACs whose ideals I support, but I prefer to give my donation to an individual campaign only during an active election cycle where it will send a bigger message of endorsement. Besides, there are always individuals or larger PACs giving more than my capability.
A current example of an issue being derailed is the voter's demand for healthcare reform. We have watched the message massaged by the professional political messengers with millions of dollars being spent daily on air, on paper and campaign coffers. The reform choice of single-payer healthcare (or Medicare for All) was eliminated at the onset from the discussion of options due to heavy influence by lobbyists' campaign dollars. The weakened economic mainstream media have had very limited coverage of Medicare for All because they would lose advertising revenues from their major sources, the health insurance carriers.
We, the voting public, are entitled to have our votes have meaning and not diminished by those who can spend more on each vote. We must have true campaign finance reform. Achieving this is hampered by the fact that those responsible for its enactment are the current beneficiaries of today's campaign finances. The legislators receive funds for their next election and the people who are available to help shape the message for campaign finance reform would be lobbying to put their industry out of business. Therein lies the problem. Our votes are worth less than the money for future campaigns.
I have run for office twice: once for township supervisor and once for state representative. I ran on issues that impact my community. I may have lost each election, but because of my strong showings, my ideas won and were enacted shortly after each campaign. I can sleep at night because my soul was not sold and my campaigns were honest discussions on issues and not personal attacks on my opponents. We can have meaningful election campaigns but we need to have significant campaign finance reforms. Follow the money!