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I think that saying the intensity of ones support isn't measured in a clean money system is a little bit of an overstatement. In the other schemes private money can trump small donations, but in a total clean money scheme then other displays of intensity become more valuable. Volunteering, writing letters to the editor and the like become more valuable if all the money is equalized.



I think it's interesting that the subject is of interest to nobody, considering that it was a hot-button issue a decade ago.
My own way of examining it is that there are two problems. First, the running-for-office is too high. Part of that bar is purely financial, but a substantial amount is regulatory burden (and a greater amount is cultural or perception or what have you). Anyway, the three policies you suggest deal, in their way, with setting the bar both lower and high enough, which is tricky and important.
The other problem, though, is in the big money stuff, that is, the disproportionate influence that the very wealthy have on the candidates and office-holders. The problem there is that there isn't any real way to keep disproportionately wealthy people from exploiting their wealth. On the other hand, it's easier to get people worked up over the big money stuff, and after all, it's a bigger issue. And in the absence of doing anything about the big money stuff, does moving the bar really make a difference?



I'm very interested, as an advocate of public financing and an opponent of the "money is speech" ruling. The incumbent congressman in my CD, VA-6, is sitting on $1.1 million of contributions, most of which is from organizations that have business before his committee (Ag.).

Anyone contemplating running needs $2 million. The situation's the same in 400 other districts -- $4-6 million has to get raised for each of those districts every two years, or else (and this is what happens) the seats are effetively uncontested.

This has to stop.


So, of course, count me among the odd few with an interest in the differences among public financing models, which, Mark, you assess very well.. BUT - I'd say the broader topic of the role of money in politics remains a hot button. It's really a metaphor for the lack of control ordinary people have over the political process - and the anger folks have about that remains very close to the surface - at least in a whole bunch of focus groups I've seen over the past 9 months.


I love the New York matching scheme, as I commented before, and yet the seeming arbitrariness of the $250 threshold in the context of all this theorizing causes me concern. Actually, that leads me to think you're using "intensity" in at least two ways: Regarding the filibuster, I read you as talking "atomistically" about the intensity of the single senator who stays up speaking. But this funding scheme strikes me as tapping not so much individual as "demographic" intensity: Lots of people wanting to give money, seemingly without regard to how strongly they feel (and in fact I could imagine it recruiting people who don't feel so strongly for the empowering feeling of multiplied effect).


Mark -- what do you think about a public financing system that would require broadcasters to give free airtime to candidates who are able to demonstrate a certain threshhold level of support (for example, a large number of $5 contributions)? This could be combined with generous matching funds(like in New York) to create something of a hybrid between a clean money system and a matching system. Such a system would have the advantage of both registering the intensity of voter sentiment (thanks to the matching element), while also helping to mute the influence of wealth inequalities and providing lesser known candidates a platform to get their message out in order to attract more small dollar donations (through the free airtime).

And since the spectrum is owned by the public, can't the government just mandate that networks provide this free airtime next time their licenses are up for renewal?

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