In a piece titled, “A Better Way to Buy Politicians,” Lindsay Mark Lewis writes in today’s New York Times that the best way to deal with super PACs is to just get rid of the limits that people can give to parties passed under the McCain-Feingold Act. Strengthening the parties in this way, Lewis argues that “would reintroduce accountability to the system, the lack of which is what makes super PACs so pernicious.”
There’s nothing wrong with strong parties, but the solution isn’t redirecting unlimited donations from the likes of people like Shel Adelson or Foster Friess. His piece even makes the exact case against his plan in two examples.
One: “No-limit donations aren’t ideal, but at least they were accountable: the parties knew who was giving, how much was given and where it was spent. Moreover, donors provided direct input in crafting a candidate’s message. Sometimes, donors got too involved, but at least they were working within the campaign, not around it.”
Two: “This way, donors might have more direct leverage over candidates, and the candidates would consider the donors’ concerns, but ultimately the latter would choose the language and packaging in which the concerns were presented, if at all.”
Direct leverage? Input on crafting a candidate’s message? Are we running elections or a parlor game for millionaires and billionaires?
The American people don’t care what bank account the unlimited donations go to—they don’t want them at all. Pundits and policymakers should be focused on ways to lift the voices of everyday people in the political process, not on how to better control the millionaires.
If you’re on Twitter, I offered up a few “Better Ways to Buy politicians” under this hashtag: #betterwaytobuypoliticians. Check it out and join in with your own suggestions!