Money in politics may well be the most unifying issue in American politics today. Americans across the political spectrum name corruption the No. 1 issue facing our nation, and more than 75% of Americans across the political spectrum support a Constitutional amendment to address this issue.
Recently American Promise board member and Republican former New Hampshire state senator Jim Rubens joined his conservative colleagues at an American Legislative Exchange Council summit in California. There, he and American Promise President Jeff Clements engaged in numerous conversations with conservative legislators who support the amendment and the work to limit the influence of concentrated, out-of-state money in our political and electoral systems.
Senator Rubens also gave a well-attended presentation highlighting the conservative case for an anti-corruption amendment. His speech outlined the several reasons why concentrated money in politics is damaging to fundamental conservative ideals. Below are a few of the highlights from the Senator’s presentation.
Today’s Concentrated Political Money System Is a Threat To Liberty
“Our nation’s founders were assiduous students of human history,” began Senator Rubens. They most feared concentrated political power and the corruption and tyranny that always follows. Our Constitution therefore structures government in multiple ways to divide and check power. The founders did not imagine billions in campaign money flooding elections throughout the country and controlled by a few dozen political aristocrats from Washington, D.C., New York and California.”
The Big Money System Now Favors Democrats
“Until 2018, Republicans were the masters of this system,” Senator Rubens said. “Since then, Democrats have been able to outraise and outspend Republicans by about two to one. …There are 10 major donor regions, and nine of them are deeply blue. Let’s look at the last election. In 2020, Joe Biden won US counties accounting for 71% of American GDP, and Donald Trump won counties accounting for 29%, down from 36% in 2016. These demographic advantages are baked in, so Republicans no longer have any partisan self-interest in preserving the system.”
Concentrated Political Money Destroys Federalism
“Federalism is our protection against remote ivory-tower, one-size-fits-all government,” Senator Rubens said. “Federalism guarantees respect for local preferences. It provides space to test ideas and to replicate them if they work. It allows us to live together as the United States of America, despite our disagreements. The campaign money aristocracy is gutting federalism and neutering the 10th amendment.”
Pay-to-Play Politics Damages Free Market Capitalism
“American free market capitalism has bestowed greater wealth and prosperity worldwide than in all of prior human history. Human liberty cannot exist without free markets,” Senator Rubens said. “But under crony capitalism, government picks winners and losers. The high bidders in our political money system get tax breaks, loan guarantees, regulatory favors and contract awards, all paid for by taxpayers. So instead of slugging it out in the marketplace to deliver better products and services to consumers, business competes in Washington by buying influence or submitting to extortion. This crony capitalism is immensely more profitable than free market capitalism. A Sunlight Foundation study showed that for each $1 of spending on lobbying and campaign contributions, politically active corporations get $760 back in taxpayer-subsidized economic favors. This corrupted form of capitalism is why young and non-white voters, who will be the majority in a generation, favor socialism over capitalism. Conservatives fighting to preserve free market capitalism must cut off the oxygen to the pay-to-play influence economy.”
Pay-To-Play Corruption Weakens National Security
“Our enemies are using our corrupt campaign money system as a weapon against us,” Senator Rubens said. “A study by the Alliance for Securing Democracy showed how Iran, China and Russia are using our loophole-infested campaign finance system as a weapon against us, to influence policy in our country.”
A Constitutional Solution
“There’s a remedy for this. It’s the For Our Freedom Amendment, reversing a wave of Supreme Court judicial activism and restoring to the states and to Congress power to curb concentrated, corrupting political money,” Senator Rubens said. “Polling consistently shows that Americans rank political corruption in Washington as the most serious issue facing our nation. Two-thirds of Republican voters back this amendment. The beauty of the amendment is its simplicity. There are no dictates; the specifics are left up to legislators at the state and federal level within their respective jurisdictions.
“Here are examples: Montana could restore its law disallowing union and corporate money in their elections. Alaska could enact a donor-voter bill banning out-of-state campaign contributions. Congress could exercise its critical national security authority and halt foreign money into our elections.
“Doing these things will require a Constitutional amendment because the Supreme Court has taken these questions out of the hands of state legislators and Congress. The need for the For Our Freedom amendment is compelled by our founders’ extraordinary vision … a nation where citizens are free to participate in government, a government solely accountable to the governed, a nation free from the corruption and tyranny that grow in the dark swamps of concentrated power.”