I agree with most of what you are saying. But I think the Democrats are stuck in the very much the same tar pit as the Republicans are. And this tar pit is called large campaign contributions. In the long run, they cannot prevail without them. Surviving on a bunch of $20 passion driven contributions is no sustainable business model. And make no mistake, running for office, time and time again, is a business. I’ve been involved in enough campaigns to know this.
In the end, if you wish to continually hold office, you are going to have to have a reliable stream of campaign cash. If you don’t, your opponent is inevitably going to crush you. Sadly, it’s as simple as that.
But it is also easy to become addicted to this relatively easy money, once it starts coming. And this is what I believe the Democrats are guilty of. But weaning them off this addiction, or keeping a possible replacement party off it, is all but impossible given the present system.
We must demand change.
But incumbents are highly favored by this system, so, no matter what their ideology, they will all probably resist this change with every breath in their body.
We must insist.
We can always threaten to primary them, if they refuse. But doing such carries the risk of running a relatively unkown against a far more well known opponent. Also, along with this incumbent’s primary loss comes his/her loss of seniority in whichever chamber they work in.
I feel that persuasion is a far better tool than threats anyway.
Perhaps we need a vision of how an alternative system would work.
I suggest, for starters, we introduce sensible term limits. These would total 30 to 36 years and would be tied to a pension. This pension would be fully vested after their 18th year in office. And this could be either accumulative or consecutive. Once fully vested, they will be forbidden to work in the private sector, on pain of forfeiting this pension.
Once this is in place, we must then demand that they come up with a remedy for huge influxes of private campaign cash. There are several possible approaches to this. One is to limit the total amount each is allowed to accumulate. This has been tried time and time again. It has a checkerboard of successes and failures. Rules such as these tend to end up before the Supreme Court, on the accusation that they restrict free speech.
To be honest, to an extent they do.
But there are other commonly accepted restrictions of free speech, such as yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre, when in fact there is no fire. The trick is to come up with an effective argument that such a restriction on free speech does far more good than harm to a democracy. I don’t believe such an argument is that hard to field.
But there are at least two other possible effective measures which are not restrictive at all.
One is to demand that public funds be used to even the ante between two opposing candidates, or two opposing sides on a ballot issue.
Against this there is probably no credible free speech argument. This is because, under such as system, free speech is actually being enhanced, not restricted.
Another possible approach is to tax the wealthier side and give the proceeds to the poorer one. This too will enhance free speech, rather than try to limit it.
But without fundamental reforms such as these, we are swimming against a rip tide in our attempts to get our supposed representatives to actually represent our best interests.