Thursday, July 22, 2004

Not Such a Bad Idea

A businessman in Arizona has had it with out-of-state interests influencing elections.  So, he's suing Senator John McCain and other politicians for accepting money from outside their state or district.

Allowing people of one state to influence the elections of another doesn't seem to square very well with the U.S. Constitution.  Each of us gets one vote, dependent on where we live -- one person, one vote.  I don't know too many people this side of the divine right of kings who would disagree with that.

But when a person in Virginia can give money to a candidate in Texas, especially if it's the $4,000 that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act allows ($2,000 for the primary, $2,000 for the general election), that money distorts the Texas elections.  Let's say a Virginian healthcare company wants more congressmen who will vote on a certain insurance bill in Congress.  A mere 100 Virginians could give $400,000 to a Texan candidate who agrees with their position, allowing that candidate to purchase more tv ads or send out more direct mailings.  If those ads influence voters, through simply increasing the candidate's recognition or by granting the candidate legitimacy by their appearance in mainstream media channels, the money of 100 Virginians may end up being worth more in the Texan elections than the votes of 1,000 Texans

As Americans work towards making our country all that it might be, occasionally the interests of one state are going to conflict with the interests of another.  That's one of the main reasons why we elect representatives as we do.  When contributions pour into an election from out of state, it means that the people of that state are getting less than their Constitutional say in who represents them. 

Senator McCain is not the only person serving in Congress to take out of state contributions.  Far from it.  McCain has been one of the few members of Congress to take on the powers that be in talking about the need for campaign finance and governmental reform. 

Suing Senator McCain may not be the best solution, nor might completely prohibiting out-of-state contributions, but it sure makes sense to require candidates to raise a huge percentage of their money from the people who will be voting for them. 

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