Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Voter owned elections: The Orange Lord weighs in

A running joke in my family comes every year when the Dept. of Agriculture sends us our tiny little subsidy check for our tiny little family farm. (We're a real family farm, in real family farm size, not one of those 10,000 acre LLCs in the family name that have the clout when farm bills come through Congress.) Holding my check--which probably wouldn't cover some people's monthly cell phone bill--I call my sisters and say, "Hot damn! Come on--let's buy us a Senator!"

Okay, probably my sisters are humoring me when they laugh--wouldn't be the first time--but they get the point. As Molly Ivins famously said, our representatives have to dance with them what brung them. And that's pretty much never us.

Voter-owned elections have been near to my heart for some time. I was glad to see it come to Portland, and I hope that, like mail-in balloting, it will spread to the rest of the state once people figure out that the sky didn't fall in.

So it's pretty interesting to see that VOE just picked up a very high-profile supporter:
I have had reservations about publicly financed elections for some time. I wasn't opposed to the idea, I just wasn't necessarily for it. I mean, the theory was great, but did I really want my tax dollars going to Alan Keyes, Tom Tancredo, or whoever else to run sleazy negative attack ads?

In any case, Hillary's full-throated defense of lobbyist money at the YearlyKos debate decided it for me. And as much as she protested that lobbyist money has never swayed her decisions on anything, I sincerely doubt she voted for the Bankruptcy Bill because she thought it was the right thing for her non-Wall Street constituents.

No kidding. You can read the rest at his place.

Kos spends some time experimenting with setting the barrier to entry high enough that you can weed out flakes (his example was LaRouche-ites), while still opening it up for nontraditional candidates.

You can read his argument and see what you think; I think that the point is to err on the side of more flakes. Kos doesn't like the idea of his tax money going to a LaRouche whackjob, but he's thinking about it wrong. That would be like me complaining that I didn't want my tax dollars paying for the pothole in my street. It's not--it's paying for the street, and all the benefits I get from having that street in front of my house. If the pothole needs to be fixed, then let's get it fixed, but remember that your taxes paid for the public good that the street represents. And in the same way, Kos's taxes wouldn't be paying for a whackjob candidate (as if we'd need public financing to flush up more of those)--it would be paying for a system where you can become a viable candidate if you're not in the pocket of the banking industry (or developers, or whoever).

Either that's worth the occasional pothole, or it isn't. I think it is, and I'm glad to see Kos coming around too.

He also speculates on how the system might be gamed by the major parties to produce sockpuppet candidates. He's a suspicious lad, our Markos.

Still, he's sounding optimistic, and willing to concede that the idea is right, and that it's mainly a matter of sweating the details. That's an important pick-up for our side.

(Cross posted at Loaded Orygun.)

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