Campaign spending has stayed within the same range as a percentage of GDP since 1860 (see Percentage of GDP), but it’s been at its highest in this century and is spiraling, a sign that it may exceed that range soon. This amendment will
fix it within that range permanently and the people will have
a say regarding how much within that range will be
spent in the future.
No causal connection has been found between donations and
members’ votes, at least in tests that use tight criteria of
quid pro quo. But unless all of a candidate's chosen votes are
known in advance tests rely on self-reporting.
And a broader increase in responsiveness to
large donors over the general public is hard to test.
Corrupt intent can of course turn up at any level but
if access is the goal, large donors do get more access
than small ones. And if donations don’t buy politicians,
what would donors be monitoring?
Ending donations completely is the only way to end
any access deals. If you think people will only try
to buy politicians who have already won, never
risking wasting their money on those who lose,
you are clearly not a gambler or investor.
Section 2’s requirements for fair contest and enforcement
of voting rights will keep the public’s information needs a state
and federal priority.
Reforms that limit donations can increase the advantage
for wealthy candidates. Ending donations completely,
coupled with a system regulating expenditures, doesn’t.
Lawyers have to figure out the regulations we have now,
and without an amendment to set basic parameters statutes
will only grow more Byzantine. But this amendment increases
public engagement, which will increase public understanding
of regulations, and unlike other proposed solutions
this amendment focuses on the public’s information needs.
Name-recognition candidacies will remain a problem even with
this amendment, but it won’t make it worse.
Reforms that limit donations instead of ending them do make it
worse. This amendment also reduces incumbent advantage in
No one argues in favor of gerrymandering.
But campaign finance reform is still disputed by some.
The following questions, adapted from the 1996 paper “Faulty Assumptions and Undemocratic Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform” by well-known political scientist Bradley A. Smith (see For the Press for citation) show how this amendment relates to objections.
Bear in mind that Smith wasn’t discussing sole public funding
but systems that limit donations.