Campaign Finance

The government does not work for us. This leads to a broad spectrum of problems -- locally, in the state as a whole, and nationally.

I think the root cause of this governmental dysfunctionality is the ‘legalized bribery’ of politicians (also known as "lobbying"). Because of the way campaigns are financed, the system is ripe for abuse. People tend to work for whoever pays them -- and so, many politicians work for their big campaign donors.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something,
when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
-- Upton Sinclair

There are two ways this ‘corporate campaign financing’ system works:

  1. Corporations can use money to directly bribe or extort politicians -- either by giving them money directly (obvious), or by threatening to give money to their opponent or to a PAC fund to oppose them (usually too subtle to notice).
  2. Sometimes a politician may already favor what's in the best interest of a corporation, in which case the corporation is all too happy to contribute to that politician's campaign, or to secretly fund a PAC that allows the actual donors to remain anonymous.

The amount of money spent on a campaign correlates highly with the success of that campaign. See "Did Money Win?"

Here in NM, just before the 2020 primary election, a dark money organization called "NM Strong" supported advertising to endorse conservative Democrats being challenged by progressives. If you go to the NM Strong website, you won't find any contact information or any identification of who is funding them. To see a list of their top donors visit The Openness Project's page on New Mexico Strong.

While we need to be careful not to run afoul of the First Amendment protecting speech, this blatant interference by a large corporation in the local politics of New Mexico should be prohibited, so that representatives are selected by the voters in their districts, not by corporations from other states.

But the Supreme Court has overturned laws that were written to address this interference, due to their denial of how money corrupts the political system.Why do corporations invenst in certain candidates?

Why do corporations, who are very concerned about their bottom lines and want to make their spending count, invest in certain candidates?

Why do they sometimes invest in candidates on both sides of an election?

Why do they seek to influence an election with money that could otherwise go to their bottom line?

They must expect a return on their investment, just like any other financial activity.

The result of corporate dominance in our election financing is that we have a system unresponsive to what people really want and need. This 5-minute video from Represent Us shows just how the current system works -- for the corporations, not for us:

I believe that candidates should not take any for-profit corporate funds and should not accept any significant out-of-state funds. (A donation of ten dollars from Aunt Martha in New Jersey isn't the problem.) You can see which big companies are supporting Alonzo here.

Campaigns have become very expensive because of the cost of media. Candidates need huge sums of money to get their message out to voters.

President Ronald Reagan terminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. This was the end of our broadcast airways being regarded as public commons, to be used for public benefit. Without the Fairness Doctrine, our airways were turned into very lucrative businesses, with little to no accountability, and little to no public benefit.

When the frequency spectrum (like AM and FM broadcast radio) was regarded as the public commons, broadcasting stations were required to operate for public benefit. They were required, in the name of fairness, to air multiple sides of issues, not just one side (which is what generally happens today). Ronald Reagan allowed broadcast stations to "own" their segment of the frequency spectrum -- with no accountability, and with no requirement to use the spectrum for the public good. The media has become a profit center and must generate a profit. Generating profit requires eyeballs and attention -- and what better way to grab eyeballs than to stoke fear and divisiveness in the public?

The Fairness Doctrine should be brought back, and broadcast stations should again be held accountable to operate in the public interest. We could drastically reduce the cost of campaigns by requiring that broadcast stations carry ads by vetted candidates for free, in the public interest.

In this video, Unbreaking America: Divided We Fall, part of the "Unbreaking America" series, Michael Douglas explains how America's political system has been hijacked to ensure that those with power keep it:

These are three fairness-in-politics movements that I strongly support:

  1. The American Anti-Corruption Act, which sets a standard for local, state, and federal laws that fix our broken elections, stop political bribery, and end secret money.
  2. The New Mexicans for Money Out Of Politics organization, which is working to remove the corrupting influence of money in politics and make the government work for ALL the people of New Mexico and our country.
  3. The Move To Amend organization, which is a coalition of organizations and individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.

Public Campaign Financing

While some people may not like public money funding political campaigns, think of how expensive it is for our democracy when the person with the most money generally wins. We could almost do away with elections by just anointing the person who raised the most money to be the winner, because in reality that's what usually happens.