Nobody even spoke up for or against lifting campaign finance limits when it came before the state Senate on Tuesday. Why bother? Republicans are going to blast away and get their way. Well, yes, lifting the limits makes politicians look bought, but … so?
Majority Leader Charlie Shields said:
“If they think politicians are bought and sold, at least they want to know who they’re bought and sold by.”
We’re up for sale and we don’t care who knows it.
In fact, lifting the limits guarantees that the price of putting a senator in one’s pocket will go up, thus further guaranteeing that only the richest will control the state. Your little $25 contributions here and there will seem increasingly paltry.
In 1994, 74 percent of Missouri voters approved imposing campaign finance limits. Do you have any idea how rare it is to get 74 percent of voters to agree on anything? You couldn’t even get 74 percent of them to approve of Mom and apple pie. But Missourians knew this was an important idea.
Nevertheless, Republicans keep saying we should lift the limits so that contributors who want to get around them won’t do it in a sneaky way, using PACs. What we want, they tell us, is “transparency”.
No, what we want is to know that Rex Sinquefield and the Farm Bureau aren’t buying our state government. Nor is it hard to figure out how to halt the auction of elected officials.
In a posting last October, I interviewed Jim Trout about the limits. He pointed out that:
the old law had bugs in it, but the no-cap solution was no solution. “Take the bugs out, but don’t use a Sherman Tank to do it,” he said in a PubDef interview last January [’06].
What he means by “bugs” is that current law allows legislative committees to raise ten times as much money as any individual can give and there is no limit on how many legislative committees may be formed. Everybody and his brother can have one. Furthermore, as even Republicans correctly argue, those legislative committees are far less transparent than straight donations.
Trout would like to see two changes in election law. First, each PARTY should be allowed one PAC, with a set amount of donations allowed. That means two PACs in the state instead of dozens. Second, the campaign limits need to be raised. Inflation has taken a huge bite out of the limits passed a dozen years ago. Stamps have gone up, and so has air time.
But Republicans didn’t consider taking the sane, responsible, fair course of action by keeping the limits, raising them to account for inflation, and restricting PACS. Instead, they’ve given the finger to the 74 percent of us who approve of those limits.
Their thinking is that the voters won’t do anything about it. Rich GOP donors love it, and the other dunces will keep voting them into office as long as Calamity Jane Cunningham proposes laws to rein in those traitorous judges and the legislature defends us tooth and nail against illegal immigrants–by forbidding them to attend public universities.
So the simpletons froth over judges who might someday raise taxes (even though they never have and wouldn’t). The gullible foot soldiers expel a sigh of relief now that Mizzou is free of wetback students. Meanwhile, the Republican legislature will be free to continue, for example, taking checks from Premium Standard Farms in exchange for denying local governments a say in controlling CAFOs. If rural people keep voting Republicans into office, a lot of them will have to kiss their property values goodbye, not to mention finding themselves living in the midst of illegal immigrants who take the low paying jobs at Tyson chicken processing plants.
Because that’s how it goes, when voters shrug their shoulders over politicians that whore after money.