What we see almost daily in the news is some kind of whining or complaining by the national Democrats and their minions about the evils of too much money being spent across the country to influence political campaigns. There is, of course, some truth to these lamentations. We do spend billions of dollars on our election process. Spending during election years is high, but we don’t usually pay as much attention to the humongous amount of fundraising and spending that goes on during the "off" years. Nor do we separate out the funding and spending that goes toward financing election campaigns in future years, i.e. Hillary and others raising money for 2016 before 2014 is in the books. The process offers absolute proof of the folk wisdom we all have learned, "Money talks, Bull Twicky walks."
The hypocrisy comes in when you consider who is doing the whining and who is commanding the greatest amounts of cash. There is no contest here. Every year our Federal tax return allows us to check a box to donate a couple of dollars to the Federal Presidential Election Campaign Fund. This was created to try and get public funds to lessen the impact of private funds in presidential elections. From the time the program was created candidates of both parties have used the fund. Oops!! The very first candidate to ever refuse the money was Barack Obama in 2008. He had so much more money available to him that the fund was irrelevant.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid can’t finish a paragraph without mentioning the Koch brothers as being the evil force behind Republican fundraising. He never mentions George Soros, a Democrat supporter richer than the Koch brothers, or Tom Steyr, another billionaire, who has lately joined the Democrat financial army. President Obama couldn’t make it to the Texas border last week, but he did manage to make it to Texas to hold several $32,000 per plate fundraising dinners. Meanwhile, Warren Buffet, possibly the richest man among the "one percent" that the Democrats claim abuse the rest of us, dropped $500,000 of his personal money into the Nebraska governor’s election in support of the Democrat candidate. And, just in case, the Democrats now have a Super Pac called the "Democratic Alliance Network" to pile up the offerings of the less wealthy faithful. All the crying would seem to be a Nile River of crocodile tears.
Now to the constitutional aspects of this hypocrisy. In May the Vermont Legislature made us the first state in the nation to pass a resolution calling for the calling of a national constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case.
This is borderline lunacy. A simple act of Congress could do the same thing, and more quickly. Also, the amount of money coming from corporations going to Republican candidates is less than the amounts reaped by Democrats using the above sources. Most importantly, given the low opinion the majority of voters hold of our elected officials, who would we elect to this convention? Once it is convened, this convention would be able to propose anything it chose to do. Do we really want to trust these turkeys to tinker with a document that has worked quite well for over two hundred years?
Assuming that the proposed convention will not take place, in June the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy, sent to the floor a proposed amendment to give the states full authority to limit campaign spending in Federal elections. Again, borderline lunacy. How will these limits be set, who will enforce them and at what cost? Likewise, if you limit the money spent on an election you add greatly to the advantage that incumbents already have. This amendment is a sneaky way to guarantee the present political divisions of the country.
Stay tuned for the biggest boondoggle of all, the proposed California referendum which would divide California into six states, thus creating ten new senate seats. What tangled webs we weave.
Weiland Ross is a Banner columnist.