Self Funding and Democracy

Six years ago, after extensive academic and historical research, Renew Democracy developed the political theorem that, in a representative democracy, politicians represent those who pay for their campaigns. Several results derive from this demonstrably true statement. The first is that in order for the voter to gain control of the electoral process and have representatives responsive to their needs and desires, they must be in control financially of campaigns and political parties.

We developed the Voter Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment proposal that enables US citizens to perfect their rights to vote and directly elect all elected officials. The Voter Bill of Rights proposal puts the individual voter in financial control of campaigns and parties, and creates a constitutional basis for an individual donation limit. The Voter Bill of Rights enables strictly limited legislation on the large purchase of media displays of groups outside of campaigns to curtail the huge influence of the runaway super PACs without endangering civil liberties and political discourse, and would enable legislation on lobbying by groups and organizations.

Another essential corollary derived from our first theorem, that politicians represent those who pay for their campaigns, is that politicians who are self-funding represent themselves. For this reason, six years ago, we included constitutional limitations on self-funding campaigns in our proposal.

In our organization’s attempt to empower representative government and to reverse the trend of the loss of public trust in our elected officials, we established a policy proposal with a constitutional framework for guidelines that would increase the responsiveness of our elected representatives by making them dependent on large numbers of individual small donor contributions. This is the only way to ensure the future success of our representative democracy, by making our politicians respond to the voter, not the large donor.

For this same reason, it is potentially as destructive of representative democracy to have self-funded candidates whose political fortunes are not tied to a large pool of individual donors. While the term “benevolent despot” is often used, it is seldom observed in reality, and it can be expected that a self-funded candidate could far easier buck public opinion in their policy decisions than one dependent on large numbers of small donations.

This provision in our proposal is one of the main reasons you have never heard of it, although we have been attempting to promote it for six years with legislators who support and fundraise off the Democracy for All amendment proposal that would “break the Constitution” and be ineffectual.

Establishment politicians have not supported the concept of limiting self-funding candidates. The very few elected officials who have been prodded to reluctantly explain state, “What about our billionaire candidate? We would not want to restrict them in their victory over those other guys.” The realization never set in that the term “our billionaire candidate” is inherently contradictory.

We fully realize that six years is a short time in the evolution of a revolution, and the Voter Bill of Rights is revolutionary in its empowerment of the US citizen. It is very unfortunate that the public discussion of the concepts it contains, including a need for restriction on self-funding candidates, has not taken place.

Soon, the US public may learn firsthand that self-funding candidates represent themselves.