VOTER ENFORCED ELECTION STANDARDS
I pledge to withhold my vote from any candidate for public office who accepts campaign funding or its equivalent, directly or indirectly, from any entity other than a “natural person” who is a citizen of the United States of America or in an amount that exceeds a total contribution per person of [ amount to be determined] dollars, provided that a [sufficiently large number, to be determined] of other vot- ers have made the same pledge by a certain date [to be determined].
Failure of a candidate to produce convincing evidence that he or she has complied with these con-ditions will be treated as failure to comply.
I understand that these funding standards apply regardless of the positions the candidate takes on substantive issues,but that I am free to vote for any candidate who has met these funding standards, on whatever grounds I judge to be appropriate.
I also understand that honoring my pledge may prevent me from voting for the candidate whose values and views on the issues I prefer; but that this may be tem- porarily unavoidable if reform in the way elections are funded is to be possible.
I pledge not to view any political statement or presentation appearing on T.V. or other medium that has been paid for by any entity or entities other than “natural persons” who are citizens of the United States of America or in amounts in excess of a [amount to be determined] dollar limit on total political contributions per person, whether contributed individually or otherwise. And I pledge not to view the programs that immediately follow within one hour of any political program or presentation that has not met these funding conditions.
Failure to provide correct, full, and clear disclosure of funding sources at the beginning of such prog-rams will be treated as having received unacceptable fund-ing.
I understand that in making either pledge I or II, I limit myself to a total political contributions of [amount to be determined] per election.
Signature____________________________________________Date_______ Please check one:PART I ONLY () PART II ONLY ( );BOTH PART I AND PART II ( )
State and City in which I am a registered voter:___________________
(1) There is now wide spread agreement that our election process has been disabled by massive, non-voter funding of both major parties from the “Political-Corporate-Finance-Union-Establishment” (Hereinafter “Political Funding Es-tablishment [PFE]) and that deep reforms are needed. (Contributions by labor unions are very large and are pro-hibited in the Voter Pledge; but this money seems to have little effect on election outcomes.)
(2) Unfortunately, we ourselves cannot pass new legislation or institute new policies, no matter how wise and necessary they may be. We can only elect those who will; and those who wish to be elected will care only about our votes.
(3) This means that however massively and cogently our demands are made outside the voting booth, they will be ignored as long as the PFE is confident that they cannot be expressed in the voting booth. For the PFE knows that as long as it controls campaign funding, it can arrange for it to be always too late for reform when we go to the polling places: PFE money will have determined the real gendas of the major parties, the way their campaigns are conducted, and the content and the standards for the form of their political statements. Ironically, third-party candidates who might challenge the PFE agenda will be made to seem irrelevant precisely because they do not have PFE funding.
(4) Thus, the very abuses that require reform have disabled the only means of reforming them. It seems “We cannot get their from here.”
The Solution: The Comprehensive Plan
(5) There is an alternative to a futile attempts to repair the election process that has made our votes meaningless by means of the very process that has made them so. We must bring our potential votes to bear proactively on the campaign immediately preceding the actual voting by making our votes contingent upon the candidates having met certain objective standards for the way their current campaigns are funded and conducted and on the logical form (not the content) of their speeches, debates, and other political discourse.
(6) Votestand members would pledge to withhold their votes from any can- didate whose campaign has not met its minimum standards for funding, pro- cess, and the form of discurse; butmembers would be free to vote for anycandidate who has complied with its standards. Members would be released from their obligations under the pledge should their number not reach a certain predetermined level by a certain date.
(7) This approach does not presuppose that reform has already occurred; does not depend upon the voluntary cooperation of those who have made reform necessary and would be planned and implemented, non-violently and lawfully, by the voters them-selves.
(8) Focus on election process, rather than substantive issues and policies, would make possible a broad, multi-partisan consensus and would block at- tempts to use fictitious or distorted substantive issues to make reform of campaign funding, process, and discourse seem perpetually inexpedient when, in fact, the integrity of the decision process is a necessary condition for sound substantive decisions.
(9) The condition that voters committed to withholding their votes from candidates who do not meet these standards be free to vote for any candidate who has met them, on whatever substantive grounds each voter thinks are relevant, is absolutely essential. The goal of Votestand is not to get some “one best candidate” elected, — “best” by our deliberately limited criteria — but to create a broad, multi-partisan consensus for standards of funding, discursive form and campaign process that would help to raise the level of every candidacy, independently of what views or values might be advocated.
(10) Releasing members from their obligation under the Pledge should our num-ber not reach a certain level by a certain date (to be determined the members}, mitigates the “wasted vote” problem (in this case, “wasted withheld votes”). This is known as a “mut-ual contingent threshold commitment.”
A First Step: Campaign Funding
(11) The “Occupy Movement” has been remarkable successful in alerting voters to the impact of massive campaign contributions and paid lobbyists on those who shape the national agenda. This suggests we initially focus on enforcing restrictions on the sources and amounts of campaign funding, leaving standards for campaign process (e.g., how debates are conducted,) and campaign dis- course (the clarity, logical structure, and documentation – not the ultimate truth — of alleged facts) to be put in place sub-sequently.
(12) If voters are to control campaign funding, the power to dominate the media given to corporations by the “Citizens United” decision must be blocked. This cannot be done by focusing exclusively on a constitutional amendment that we have no direct power to enact and that will be massively resisted by the same corporate money it is meant to block. But we can convince “corporate persons” that their political ads will not be view-ed and provide disincentives to the commercial media for selling time for this purpose. (See Part II of draft pledge). The loss of viewers for the programs immediately following such unacceptably funded political ads would amplify such a disincentive by bringing pressure to bear from commercial advertisers.
(13) It is essential that political ads funded by the PFE not be viewed at all (see Part II of the Draft Pledge) because those who pay for and design them are convinced rightly or wrongly that merely viewing such ads will tend to have the desired effect, whether or not the viewer agrees with the policies and values they (often covertly) advocate. In any case, the sheer volume and cost of such ads overwhelms better sources of information.
(14) The effect on good government of applying such marketing techniques to campaign discourse is of no concern to those are paid handsomely for providing this service or for airing the result. But “viewership” is routinely and accurately monitored electronically by rating agencies and determines the advertising revenues of the commercial media.
(15) For further information The Pledge or about the more comprehensive plan, see see<< www.votestand.wordpress.com >>This site is in construction and has no comment resource.. For now, please share your comments through the email address below.)
Greg P. Hodes, Ph.D.