Unfortunately, money wins elections. This is because a large number of the voters do not take time to research the candidates – they simply vote for the name that is the most familiar. And like laundry detergent, the most familiar name is the one that receives the most advertising.
Politicians build up large “war chests” for future campaigns. Once a candidate wins the election, money comes pouring in, mainly from companies who want to be on his good side. It is not uncommon for a Congressional incumbent to have $100,000 or more sitting ready for his next election. Money wins elections, and they all want more of it.
So how can we use this fact to hold politicians to their promises?
Let’s say your Congressman, Rusty Ballard, ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, promising to stop the out of control spending in Washington. Great! He won your vote. But your fear is that Congressman Ballard will get to Washington and fall in step with leadership, spending like a drunken sailor. The problem? He will be the incumbent next election with lots of money ready for his re-election campaign. This will make him very difficult to unseat.
So here is the plan…
Shortly after Congressman Ballard takes office, you set up a Super-PAC. It costs about $100 to set up, and there is a little paperwork involved, but nothing complicated. The name of the PAC? Here is the clever part – “Somebody-Against-Ballard.”
Now a vote to raise the debt limit comes up. You call Congressman Ballard’s office and ask him NOT to vote to raise the debt limit. His staff member thanks you for your call. He then votes to raise the debt limit, because what does he care – he has his money ready for the next election.
So you email all your fiscally responsible contacts, alert them to the Congressman’s vote, and ask them to drop $5, $10 or $20 into the Somebody-Against-Ballard PAC. Once word gets out you will have quite a list of contacts. After a year, you could build up to maybe 5,000 people who are willing to participate. The next time the Congressman votes for a bad spending bill? Everybody chips in just $10. Suddenly the money in the PAC goes up by $50,000. It’s like the carrot and stick approach, but without the carrot.
Now for every vote that comes up Congressman Ballard will have to think of the consequences. With a list of 5,000 people, if everybody ends up putting just $100 in the PAC you end up with a half a million dollars to spend in support of his (as yet unnamed) opponent.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Post them below and let’s start a dialog. I have a few members of Congress in mind already…