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I just went to the website for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, and read this statement there:

Make a generous contribution below to help support our efforts to make this the most open and transparent convention in our party’s history.

This year, we are setting a new standard for how Conventions are funded — no longer will it be sponsored with money from corporations, special interests, lobbyists and political action committees. Instead, our convention will be funded by supporters like you. Join us by making a donation today and help us make history. [emphasis mine]

I'm actually thinking of donating. I thought I had given up on the Democrats (though I knew I'd likely still vote for them, since the Republicans are far worse), but this gives me just a smidgen of hope that maybe, maybe they're getting their shit together.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
ericadawn16
Oct. 28th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
Wow, that IS awesome!
whswhs
Oct. 28th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
Do they actually have a mechanism for making this happen? I mean, for example, if you donate money to them, does your name, or that of your organization, automatically go onto a donor list that any member of the public can access, or that some genuinely impartial auditor can verify? Or is this just a public relations claim? It's nice packaging, but if the contents don't match what's on the box, will you have a way to find out?

Make no mistake, I think rent-seeking—the expenditure of money by private interests (businesses, labor unions, and even nonprofits) to induce the government to regulate the economy in a way that tilts the playing field in their favor—is a major, major problem with political institutions. (Of course, my preferred solution—to strip the government of the power to regulate and thus reduce the temptation and the harm—is not one you'd be in favor of.) But that trade has two sides: private interests willing to buy, and legislators and administrators willing to sell. But the United States has a long history of "reform" movements that turn out to be whitewashes rather than real cleanings.

It's an academic question for me, as I'm not even vaguely tempted to vote for any Democrat. But I'd hope that people who might vote Democratic would hold the party up to high standards with some real force. Have you looked over their proposal for the ways a billionaire with an agenda could sneak money around it?
ebenbrooks
Oct. 28th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
All donors (on that page, anyway) must supply name, address, e-mail address, employer, and occupation, just like donors to political campaigns in general.

And, yes, I said it was a small step for a reason: I don't actually know if they have a plan for keeping super-rich people from buying them with huge donations. I'm hoping they do, but I'm still looking into it (which is why I haven't donated myself yet).

On the other hand ... I'm actually surprised that you're opposed to private interests donating large sums to political candidates, since you were so vehemently opposed to campaign finance reform and (if I am recalling rightly, and please correct me if I am not) supported the Citizens United ruling as constitutional. Why the change of stance?
niall_shapero
Oct. 28th, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Citizens United
Citizens United was constitutional because the 9 Supremes said it was constitutional. And enough people with enough power agreed. But "how many divisions does the Supreme Court have" is an important question that must be answered. If the people (or enough of the people who count) disagree, then the Supremes can go fly a kite (no violence, just "freedom, I won't").
whswhs
Oct. 28th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
That's too complicated a question to address in this space; I can only comment briefly.

I don't see my stance as having changed in the slightest, and I do still support the Citizens United decision. However, I see the publication of political opinions as a different sort of thing from the direct provision of money to politicians and political parties, because it is not so readily used as leverage to extract political favors to special interests.

But also, I'm addressing my comments to you, and asking about the logic of your position. I didn't want to turn this into an argument over the political issues where we disagree, and already know we disagree.
ebenbrooks
Oct. 29th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
Oh! Okay, I get it now. Thanks for the clarification.
ebenbrooks
Oct. 28th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
And just for the record, I just sent an e-mail to the convention committee asking about their donation transparency policies. We'll see what they come back with.
niall_shapero
Oct. 28th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
Government regulation
Bill, you said, "Of course, my preferred solution—to strip the government of the power to regulate and thus reduce the temptation and the harm—is not one you'd be in favor of"
===================================
Based on experience (read: history as well as current events), when the government doesn't regulate an industry, the result is not self-regulation but "buyer beware". If you want a good example from current events of what happens when there is no government regulation, you have only to look at China right now, where the elite have their own "special" organic farms to produce clean food for them, and the masses get to eat contaminated, or outright poisoned food (melamine was and is the least of their worries).

niall_shapero
Oct. 28th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC)
Progress...
Bill, you said, "the United States has a long history of "reform" movements that turn out to be whitewashes rather than real cleanings".
============================================
True: but it has also a history of reform movements that have carried out true reforms (e.g., abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, and the labor movement in the late 19th through early 20th century). Two steps forward, one step back is realistically what we've seen - but we have made progress. You disagree? Then compare our foreign and domestic policies of the 1890s through 1913, with some careful examination of how we dealt with the Huk.

Just because a change doesn't go all the way and fix all problems doesn't mean that it is bad.
niall_shapero
Oct. 28th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Who to vote for...
Bill, you said, "It's an academic question for me, as I'm not even vaguely tempted to vote for any Democrat".
=======================================
So, what candidates ARE you planning of voting for? If you're going to vote for a third party candidate, realize that (realistically) you're throwing your vote away at best, and ensuring that the candidate LEAST like your candidate will be elected in the worst case.
niall_shapero
Oct. 28th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Right now...
Bill, you said, "Have you looked over their proposal for the ways a billionaire with an agenda could sneak money around it?"
===================================================
If the contribution (who made it, and for how much) is made public, then it shouldn't be that much of a problem. Right now, we have the problem that billionaires (like the K**h brothers) can start entire political movements with their money and it can be made intentionally difficult to "follow the money".
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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