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The Role of Contributed Dollars in Democracy

Re “The Dash for Cash,” Opinion, April 27: I continue to be amazed by those who think that further regulating elections will somehow remove “special interest” money from them.

Immediately after the passage of McCain-Feingold, large amounts of money continue to flow. Why should I approve any scheme where not only can I not freely give any amount of money to the candidate of my choice, but my tax money would help pay for the campaign of someone I wouldn’t give a dime to in a million years? To Nick Nyhart and Joan Claybrook this may be appear to be “democracy.” In my eyes, however, that is theft.

Citizens (and associations of citizens) should be able to contribute whatever amount of money they wish to the candidates of their choice. The fact that competing and nonassociated interests would finance campaigns would mitigate the impact of each interest. This would lead to more competitive elections. Additionally, if the federal government were limited to acting within the framework of the Constitution, perhaps “special interests” wouldn’t be so, uh, interested in the outcome of federal campaigns.

Russell Lemley

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Torrance

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The voters must be the final arbiters in the determination of who can be a candidate. The law says you can vote only once but permits a donation to candidates you cannot vote for. That donation is expected to garner votes for the recipient, the equivalent of you voting for multiple candidates. That should not be permitted.

A candidate must be required to collect directly from people who are registered to vote for that candidate. That would mean the end of corporate donations, the end of PACs, the end of the Hollywood left and the religious right. Only a registered voter would be permitted to contribute and, therefore, be permitted to determine who may become a candidate.

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James T. Humberd

La Quinta

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There is an inherent contradiction between mentioning in one paragraph that 96% of Americans never give a campaign contribution and calling in the next for full public financing of primary and general elections. Nyhart and Claybrook are calling for increased taxes on the 96% of Americans who have already decided that they do not want to participate with their own money.

This is an arrogant presumption by well-meaning people: to assume that they know what’s best for everyone and then demand that we fund their ideas, when our actions have already made it clear that we don’t want to do so.

Perhaps Americans do not contribute to campaigns because they are satisfied with the current system. Perhaps they wish to spend their money in other ways. Whatever their reasons, the idea of freedom includes the right not to participate. “Public financing” is coercion by taxation.

John Holcombe

Laguna Beach

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