We get letters...

By John Karr
Published February 3rd 2007 in Philadelphia Inquirer

And this one, e-mailed in response to the campaign finance controversy, is from John Karr, political director of the Libertarian Party of Philadelphia.

"So called Campaign Finance Reform is a farce. Both parties are corrupt and they’re both writing the rules that are supposed to make them less corrupt."

Read more after the jump...

So called Campaign Finance Reform is a farce. Both parties are corrupt and they’re both writing the rules that are supposed to make them less corrupt. The rules that they write tend to squeeze out the little guy, the people like Nutter and Evans who are established in the political landscape can collect from lots of donors, rich people like Tom Knox can pay their way. But ordinary people who are stepping up to try and change things get shut out either way.

The alternative we often hear of having the government finance elections will still work out so that the little guys get nothing. The FEC recognizes five political parties as being National Political Parties. When the Republicans and Democrats nominate their candidates the FEC writes them a check for $80 million. When the Green, the Libertarian, and Constitution Parties nominate their candidates, they get $0. Yet the little guys have to follow all of the same reporting rules and donation limitations. In order to pay my Libertarian Party Dues I have to write three separate checks, one to the National Party, one to the Pennsylvania Party and one to my County Chapter, it didn’t used to be this way, and by making people have to join each level separately has reduced revenue and increased the paperwork that the minor parties across the board must do.

If you want to talk about really fixing the corruption and pay to play culture, then let’s talk about breaking the two party monopoly. Get rid of all of the stupid campaign laws that don’t work. The only one that matters is disclosure – who gave how much to whom. Require that every office up for election be subject to one of the following: Approval Voting (vote for all candidates you approve of), Preferential Voting (allow voters to select a second choice for an instant run-off between the top vote getters if no one gets a majority), or Proportional Representation (the At-Large Council race is a very crude form of this). As an example of how stacked the political duopoly has made it, last year Republican and Democratic Candidates for Statewide office needed 2000 signatures, other candidates needed 67,000 signatures, and not only were the minor parties off the ballot but the Green Senate Candidate has been fined close to $200,000 (in addition to his own legal bills) for trying to get on the ballot. So not only are the Minor Parties shafted by every attempt at campaign finance reform, but we are forced to spend all of our resources just getting on the ballot.

What Democrats and Republicans call Campaign Finance Reform is really just a veil for keeping the competition down.

John Karr
Political Director, 18th Ward Leader
Libertarian Party of Philadelphia.