WHAT DO ABORTION AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM HAVE IN COMMON?….Sam Rosenfeld talked to Rep. Louise Slaughter about serious campaign finance reform yesterday. Here was her reaction:
I think what the sense really is ? we keep getting stuck with McCain-Feingold here ? is that the public wouldn’t stand for it. I think we’re held in such minimum, low regard that if people started to talk about public financing for elections they’d go nuts….I don’t hear any talk about public financing at this point.
That doesn’t sound right to me ? people would “go nuts”? ? but it’s a good example of the importance of working at the state level that I mentioned yesterday. Both Arizona and Maine have implemented radical public finance laws that work well and are popular, nicely described here by Micah Sifry:
In both states, candidates for state offices win public financing on condition that they raise and spend no private money (including their own) and abide by stringent spending limits. To qualify, these ?Clean Elections? candidates have to raise a large number of $5 contributions from voters in their district (the opposite of the system in most states, where candidates raise a small number of large contributions from a tiny, wealthy elite). Candidates who choose to run clean get public funds, and, if they are outspent by a privately financed opponent, additional matching funds are available.
California is starting to look like it might follow suit this year. Loni Hancock’s periodic effort to introduce Arizona-style campaign finance reform actually passed the Assembly a couple of weeks ago, which is better than it’s ever done before. The odds are still against ultimate passage (Republicans hate it, of course), but if it passed in California I imagine it would have a tremendous impact on the rest of the country. It would be a big step forward in reducing the constant background buzz of corruption caused by our current culture of permanent fundraising.
[UPDATE: It looks like I spoke too soon. More here.]
And in other state news, South Dakota is about to ban abortion in the hopes that John Paul Stevens will die soon and a new George Bushified Supreme Court will uphold their shiny new uterus regulation legislation. Yet another reason not to bother taking a vacation to see Mount Rushmore.