Get Money Out of Politics… By Spending Big Money?

Stamp Money out of Politics, Sponsored by Ben & Jerry

I came across this at Northwest Folklife today and had to share it. If you haven’t heard of i1329, it is an initiative that aims to give government full control over political spending. While that may sound like a great idea, it doesn’t take a genius to see how this quickly becomes the incumbent protection racket. It’s already a problem in Washington, the laws are so complex that you practically can’t run for office without spending weeks researching rules and regulations that affect candidates. It’s practically a full time job for many campaigns to keep up with these rules.

The i1329 group sees that there are problems too. But their solutions make it harder for the little guy to be involved. In the state of Washington, any donation over $25 must be reported. (The federal threshold is $200.) Anyone who makes a political contribution over this amount is now on the public record, meaning their employer or landlord now knows their political views. If you had a employee who gave money to $15 Now, would they still be your employee? What about a tenant who was in favor of rent control? These are just simple examples. It is important that Anonymous political speech be possible, otherwise those in power can intimidate us the people and prevent us from making our views known.

Does this leave a loophole for the rich? Yes. But keep in mind, they are already the ones in power. If they didn’t leave themselves a loophole, they can absolutely afford the lawyers and court battle to make one happen. And that is where we are now. Big money pushed a hole through the dam via the Citizens United VS FEC ruling. It is still very difficult for ordinary individuals to anonymously contribute to campaigns. The i1329 people are trying to plug that dam by making it even more difficult for small individuals to give anonymously.

What prompted me to post this was the ironic text on the bottom of their sign. It reads “Sponsored by Ben & Jerry”. Yes, you read that right. The campaign to get money out of politics is being sponsored by big money. You think they know something they aren’t saying? I do.