Wednesday, August 06, 2008

King County Initiative 26

Here's my take, somewhat long winded.

At this time, most of the low level grassroots work for the partisan candidates is done by party members and volunteers. Without that backing, many well qualified candidates would be unable to compete with less qualified but well funded candidates. While James Madison begged us in the Federalist Papers not to form 'factions', he also foresaw the ability of accumulated financial capital to control our electoral process because that's what the American Revolution was fought against in the first place. He believed that factions would BE the accumulated capital that took control of our election process. He wasn't too far off base. With the laws as they stand today, much of the campaign financing is raised through the parties, or at least much of the promotion for a candidate or campaign. However not enough of it is raised directly by the parties to enable party members to hold candidates and elected officials to the party platform. The rest of the funds are raised outside of the party, putting candidates in the position of needing to support the positions of their financial backers, not the constituents they are supposed to represent. This was the threat described by Madison.

King County Initiative 26 as presented would cut the parties out of the loop almost entirely. Our platforms would drop in importance even more than they already have, as candidates would no longer be directly associated with the core party positions in the eyes of most of the electorate. I use a party label as the first step of knowing what a candidate stands for, which is what makes it so difficult for me in judicial races. But the real problem comes with the financing of campaigns. If I-26 passes, the amount of money needed to run a campaign and win will not go down, or have any limitations placed on fundraising or expenditures. Transparency would also not improve, because it is outside the scope of the initiative, managed by the PDC. So what it would do is put our candidates in thrall even more to the big money interests that the parties are right now supposed to be a bellweather against, because the parties are membership organizations of, by and for the people who show up.

My bottom line is this: Give us public campaign financing first, then we'll talk about non-partisanship. Let's take big money out of our campaigns first. Until we do that, the party label, and the party infrastructure, is the first defense against having our elected officials completely under the thumb of big money.

Chad Lupkes
PCO SEA 46-2324


WSPC Voices said...

Well isn't this rather mute given the top two primary we have now? The backers, CIG, states: " This allows voters to choose between all candidates in the primary without having to "pick-a-party,". Voters don't have to pick a party, they can choose from any candidate on their ballot. So, whats their reason now?
I think all elected offices should be partisan. Remember what Tip-O said? Thanks for your take on this,others aren't saying much.

R.Austin Sr. said...

I could not agree more….

It is naïve for anyone to think that partisanship does not play a role in politics. Everyone has political leanings. Everyone! And they are brought with them when they are elected (or appointed) to office. That holds true for a dog-catcher all the way to the president, and includes the judiciary.

It is my belief that every office should be partisan. I want to know the political predilections of “candidates” and of those who seek to play a role in government.

If, for an example, a candidate for a City Council slot harbors extreme-right tendencies, I want to know that before election day.

Public campaign financing will go a long way to halt the election of lawmakers who were purchased by the corptocracy that currently has much too much influence in our “free elections”.

Partisanship gives us at least a smattering of an idea as to where particular candidates line up on the political spectrum.

Rich Austin