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View Diary: SCOTUS: Vermont Campaign Finance Law Is Unconstitutional (143 comments)

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  •  Term limits limit my right to choose the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Drew, grrr, AnnArborBlue

    candidate that I think is best for a particular seat.  Oh and just by the way as a practical matter, I think we'd be pretty sorry to say good bye to the likes of Kennedy, Slaughter or Conyers at this point in history.  The other practical matter applies to work of the quality and level that people like Conyers have done on documenting potential impeachment documents that they would never have been able to accomplish without the experience of their long tenure.

    I have long wondered if it would make more sense to limit the size of the war chest rather than the size of the donations allowed.  In other words, why not just say that the total amount you can spend is $X and if it all comes from one guy then so-be-it - the candidate would still have to find an audience.  But I have to agree that in some ways this kind of campaign law does give an advantage to the incumbent who arguably never has to work as hard to become visible to the electorate.

    •  limiting the size of the war chest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      inclusiveheart

      Is precisely what a clear majority of this Court rejected, however.

      •  I know. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tryptophan

        I was just saying that it seemed like a good idea, but at the same time I could easily talk myself out of it.  I am in marketing and I know how unpredictable communications plans can be and I know all too well how expensive that can be in one instance and how cheap and easy they can be in another even if the end goal is the same.  There is no way to quantify media relations and impact therein no matter what Neilsen wants you to believe.  How can you accurately put a dollar amount on an incumbent's advantage for instance?  That is the thing.  You really can't.  Without being able to do that, putting a cap on spending is an arbitrary and potentially dammaging effort to the democratic process.

        I'd focus in reinstating the fairness doctrine based on my media experience before I'd tackle campaign finance if I was in government.  Other than that, I have nothing valuable to offer on this question because oddly I feel closely allied with all sides.

        •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)

          How can you accurately put a dollar amount on an incumbent's advantage for instance?  That is the thing.  You really can't.  Without being able to do that, putting a cap on spending is an arbitrary and potentially dammaging effort to the democratic process.

          Amen and amen. The challenger has a huge, HUGE disadvantage compared to the incumbent. What was the incumbent retention rate last election - 98%? It sure wasn't because we had such a swell bunch of guys in congress, either.

          For every dollar spent on the race, the incumbents natural advantages become less significant.

          Imagine a race in a 'publicly funded' system where thanks to shenanigans the estbalishment decided there would be virtually zero campaign expenditures allowed. No advertisements. The incumbent will win handily. People already know who he is. They hear about him on the news. They see him doing things that might help them. Why would they vote for this completely unnamed other guy who can't even spendenough money to get his message out?

          Bad situation all around.

          "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." -- JFK

          by Tryptophan on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 12:16:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

        If I understand the ruling, Breyer rejected THESE limits -- he left the door open for a larger limit on warchests.

    •  We do that for the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gsbadj

      President already, right? Should we overturn that?

      I'm willing to give up Kennedy and a few other good guys for this. It's worth it. Kennedy can serve in other ways, surely.

      I think this idea that things only get accomplished if people are sitting in the legislature for 40 years is unfounded. Where did that idea come from? It's bizarre, to say the least.

      Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

      by chemsmith on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 11:04:36 AM PDT

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      •  No. (0+ / 0-)

        Presidential candidates choose whether to voluntarily limit their spending as a condition for getting public financing.

        Bush did not accept the limits or the public funding in 2000.

      •  The Founding Fathers is where it came from. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        libertarian soldier

        The problem is that Americans have stopped participating in the electoral process.  It isn't the candidate's fault that people take no interest in actually figuring out who they are and what they are doing AND don't go vote either.

        People have to participate in a democracy in order for it to work.

        Call them bizarre all you want... but I think they were pretty brilliant.  They installed a mechanism for change whilst also offering stability.  You probably don't want to know what I think about the California recall.

        •  What? (0+ / 0-)

          The Founding Father said that you had to be in office for 40 years to accomplish anything? I missed that.

          Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

          by chemsmith on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 11:23:20 AM PDT

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          •  Oh come on. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KingOneEye

            The Founding Fathers allowed for the possibility that an elected official would be much beloved and for the possibility that they would at some point need to be replaced and they left it up to the people not arbitrary term limits.  It isn't as if they didn't consider term limits in creating this country.  They understood the need for some sort of continuity in government.  The whole power structure on the Hill has based on tenure and god forbid we didn't have at least that right now as a minority party.  "Ranking Member" thankfully still means something.  The House would be utter chaos without the ranking system.  You know, you give little credit to people like Conyers for continuing to get elected over all those years.  Did it ever occur to you that some of these long-timers have done something right?  The people who are scary to me are the dillitantes like Frist.  Even Arlen Specter as much as I hate him has saved this country's butt a few times lately if only by being vaguely contrarian with this Administration which he preceeded by years.

            •  The term limits in California... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              inclusiveheart

              ...have produced a legislature that is inexperienced and ineffective. The only thing limits did was to enhance the power of lobbyists. They have no term limits. Thus, they have greater institutional memory and legislators become dependent on them. Many bills are written by lobbyists because the legislators don't know what they are doing.

              Just when someone is getting the hang of the job, they are termed out. Also, this means they are perpetually shopping around for other offices they can hold.

              •  A thousand 4's for that comment about lobbyists. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KingOneEye

                It is true.  One of my relatives has worked in Sacramento for years and she told us some of the most horrifying stories about the state of the legislature when we had dinner recently. In essence all a term limit does is make it so people have nothing to lose.  I mean look at George Bush - he has no hope of being re-elected - why should he do anything that the people want anyway?  Imagine if none of these people in Congress had to get re-elected.  Do you think they would be dicking around with gay marriage when they could just go ahead and spend what time they had left time killing Social Security?

                •  You mean (0+ / 0-)

                  nothing to GAIN by sucking up to lobbyists. They aren't going to be able to be elected again, at some point, so there's no point in having to do what lobbyists tell them to do.

                  Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

                  by chemsmith on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 01:37:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You have it backwards... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    KingOneEye

                    Look at Billbray as a perfect example.  He lost his other House seat and went into lobbying.  When it was time for him to pitch for the team on the Hill again they sent him back up to the Majors.  If he loses his seat after creating all kinds of lobbyist driven legislation he will go back into a cushy office with the lobbyists.  Dedicated public servants on the other hand, are driven by voter satisfaction and don't spend their time while elected designing their really nice future lobbyist offices whilst taking orders.

                    I have the benefit if having known a lot of dedicated public servants in my lifetime and they are a different breed - they are an honest breed too.  They should be able to serve as long as we can have them around.

              •  I think this is simply an opinion (0+ / 0-)

                Note: Ahnold is in charge. There's one problem for Florida. Before that..Gray Davis and that whole incredible mess. Before that, well, just a mess upon a mess upon a mess in that state. How you single out term-limits as the problem is beyond me.

                Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

                by chemsmith on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 01:36:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I never said term limits was the only problem... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...I was talking about the problem of term limits, not the problem of everything. Of course there are other problems, but that isn't what we were discussing. I notice that you didn't address a single point I made with regard to term limits.

                  BTW, Ahnold is NOT in charge. He is in a very weak position. He was crushed last November with his initiatives that went down 0 for 4. The Democratic Assembly and Senate are prevailing in most policy matters (despite the fact that they are missing opportunities due to their lack of experience). And Angelides will be the next governor.

            •  LOL at Spector (0+ / 0-)

              He's a total moron and a great example of why term limits would be useful.

              If our system is such that only 40 year vets can make it work, then our system is blown.

              I really don't know where it says that the Founding Fathers were setting the system up for 'beloved' legislators. They didn't foresee lobbyists keeping them in power.

              Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

              by chemsmith on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 01:40:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  BOTTOM LINE, TOO... (0+ / 0-)

              is this: Could Congress POSSIBLY be ANY worse than it is now?

              Answer: Not a chance. Our current 'legislator for life' system is absolutely broken. There is no way to defend it.

              Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

              by chemsmith on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 01:45:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am not defending this Congress. (0+ / 0-)

                I am attacking the American electorate for failing to step up to the plate and make real decisions about who is best for this country.  That is very different.

                The bottom line is that you may not really understand that the balance of power is not just between the three branches of government.  The balance of power is reflected throughout our traditions and governmental structure.  

                The lobbyists would enjoy much more power under your scenario than you could obviously conceive.  KingOneEye offered up a very good example of how term limits have done serious dammage in California already.  Term limits limit our ability to say who should be in charge.  That is a problem.  But until you find a politician that you really respect and hold dear for their work, you may not ever be able to grasp what you would give up with arbitrary term limits that do no reflect the will of the people.

              •  Oh and yes this Congress could be worse. (0+ / 0-)

                If we had term limits it would be a nightmare well beyond this situation.

      •  If you mean overturn term limits for the pres... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grrr, inclusiveheart, gsbadj

        ...Yes.

        Term limits are an affront to free elections. I should be able to run for any office as long as I want and people should be able to vote for me as long as they want.

        The reasons we have so many entrenched incumbants is NOT because their terms aren't limited, it's because the electoral system in this country is broken. Fair campaigns would produce more representative government. That means:

        • Get corporations out of campaigns.
        • Draw fair, representative districts.
        • REFORM THE MEDIA so that it fulfills it's responsibility to the public.
        • Inform the public so that they demand substantive campaigning.

        That's a start.

      •  Yeah but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        inclusiveheart

        ... what makes you think the GOP will spend any less to elect their candidates for the House or Senate even though they may be term limited?

        Here in Michigan, IMHO, term limits have been a disaster.  By making sure that nobody sticks around long enough to make a career of it, we wind up with a bunch of part-timer legislators.  Plus in the couple terms that they are there, they never acquire enough expertise in any given policy area.

        Sure, the incumbents don't pile up the campaign war chests like they used to.  But that just means that the party is the recipient of influence-buying donations.

        The result is that, more than ever, the parties, the lobbyists and staffs run everything.  Almost nobody ever strays from the party lines.

        I see your point though.  I just think that there's an important element of freedom in being able to vote for the only person from my Congressional district who I want representing me, i.e, John Conyers.

        If he's been there too long, we can always vote him out.

        "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." Steven Wright

        by gsbadj on Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 12:16:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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