Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paper: Reforming Campaign Finance Reform

With one of the presidential candidate's names on the most recent attempt to reform campaign finance and the other raising more money than any other candidate in history, this issue is more important than ever. Here is a research paper I wrote in April of this year about the topic. It's kind of lengthy, so I put the intro and conclusion below. The whole paper is attached.

American democracy was formed on the idea that politicians are supported or opposed by the people and the people show their requests by voting. The power that money has over the political process is seen as a historical and international problem. In this paper I will discuss what the American government has done in an attempt to hamper the influence of money over politics. I will then discuss the affects that the current campaign finance reform has over the process today. I will then briefly discuss the importance of money actually plays in politicians voting decisions and whether public financing will solve that problem. After that I will present the subject as it is framed in many debates, as expression vs. equality. Then I will briefly discuss why elected officials, from a self-interested model, would support and sometimes push these laws. Finally I will present my recommendations on what, if anything can and should be done to ensure American democracy is functional.

Since the 19th century the federal government has been trying to regulate and control the flow of money in and out of politics. Major legislation in 1925, 1971, and most recently in 2002 have all made small steps to completing that goal. However, no legislation has been able to solve the problem. Disclosure have been very beneficial in realizing just how much money is going through the process, but limiting special interest money from influencing candidates has yet to be seen.

Finally, the worry over the influence that donations have over elected officials could be looked at as just another form of political participation. Campaign donations, protesting, writing letters to representatives, and even voting are all different types of political involvement. Politicians trade votes, just like they trade money, for policy decisions and these policy decisions usually come at the expense of others. Is it possible that campaign donations should be applauded, as voting is, as just another form a political participation?

Here's the full paper.

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