NCSL's elections team, state campaign finance laws:
Gamwell is professor of religious ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School. This article appeared in The Christian Century, March 4,pp.
Copyright by The Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www. That question should be the subject of political discussion.
Is the freedom to contribute money to a political campaign part of our guarantee of freedom of speech? Money plays an enormous role in selecting and electing our political leaders. Many doubt that any controls can be implemented to blunt the power and influence exercised by people with wealth.
Nonetheless, a significant part of the American public thinks the situation has gotten out of hand.
The nearly quantum leap in campaign spending over recent decades, propelled especially by the use of television, has provoked a growing sense that something should be done, even if there is little agreement on what this something might be.
Is campaign reform an issue whose time has come? There are arguments against such legislation, and the Supreme Court itself seems unclear about what the Constitution does and does not permit. But the issue is on the political agenda.
A full inquiry would entail a canvassing of specific legislative possibilities. If campaign financing is regulated, what shape should the controls take? Should there be limits on contributions?
On expenditures by candidates? On so-called soft money given to political parties, or on independent expenditures by various organizations? Should there be public financing and, if so, under what conditions?
I want to withdraw provisionally from the practical details to address a larger question: Are there religious reasons why Christians should be concerned with campaign finance reform?
I think there are. They are closely tied to our commitment to democratic process and religious freedom. When the new United States ratified the Bill of Rights and so stipulated that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," it crowned a revolutionary reversal in Western politics.
European societies through 14 centuries had assumed that a political community requires religious uniformity, and the logic of that assumption seemed impeccable: Since religious plurality prevents opposing parties from being united by a deeper commitment, it is a recipe for civil instability.
Against the force of that traditional view, the founders of our Republic asserted that the public good not only allowed but demanded religious freedom.
What accounts for this striking departure from the wisdom of the past? Thomas Jefferson best formulated the answer: Democracy means, as Lincoln would later say, government not only of and for the people but also by the people, and this "sovereignty of the people" is real only when government is the consequence of full and free political discourse.
Public debate would be arrested if the state could teach a religion or impose on citizens their deepest conviction about the common good. Full debate requires that the argument stretch to the ultimate ideal by which all activities of the state ought to be informed, and this means that citizens should be free to advance and defend any religion they find convincing.Campaign finance reform is the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics, primarily in political campaigns..
Although attempts to regulate campaign finance by legislation date back to , the modern era of "campaign finance reform" in the United States begins with the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of and, more importantly.
Develop arguments for and against campaign finance reform and draw conclusions. students can monitor the campaign finances of candidates in their own state and region at the following sites.
Why we Need Reform By Joan Mandle If we change campaign finance laws, we will help create the real democracy most of us want — one in which laws and policy reflect the will of the majority of the American people.
Democracy Matters’ motto is CHANGE ELECTIONS. CHANGE AMERICA. III. What is wrong with the present system? But then the economic order, not the funding of political campaigns, needs to be reformed. This belief, sometimes without clear articulation, stands behind much of . Watch video · Miriam Marks: Create a more timely and effective system of donor disclosure.
While campaign finance information must be made public by law, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to track down.
Why Campaign Finance Reform Never Works. By Bradley A. Smith. In fact, constitutional or not, campaign finance reform has turned out to be bad policy. For most of our history, campaigns were.