“Full disclosure” is something that a lot of powerful people want for everyone but themselves. One California man is looking to change that, however, with a ballot measure that would require the state’s lawmakers to wear patches, stickers, or something else that identifies their top 10 political contributors, kind of the way sponsors are all over NASCAR drivers’ cars and uniforms.
California just requires 365,000 valid signatures to get something on the ballot, and according to Vice, their ballot may be “freakishly overstuffed” this coming November because of it. Businessman John Cox said that, while he doesn’t know where this idea came from, he and his crew are adopting it as a way to do something about big money in politics:
‘This initiative will require every state legislator to wear on his coat, stickers, or some kind of logo representing their top ten contributors,’ Cox explained. Even if not an actual sports coat, the logos must be worn on the legislator’s person. ‘It can’t be a sign that they hold up.’
If nothing else, it might shame politicians into refusing exorbitant donations in exchange for favors, which is exactly how that works. It might also shame big donors into thinking twice before trying to bribe candidates with campaign money. Nobody donates big money to specific candidates without expecting something in return, like a bill proposed, killed, passed, or voted down. Knowing where the influence is coming from is a big step towards helping the little people get their voices back.
It’s a shame we can’t do something like this at the federal level because we have no national referendum process. Even if all 50 states put such a referendum on their ballots, and even if it passed in all 50 states, it’s still just a state-by-state resolution until Congress decides to do something about it. We all know that’s not likely to happen.
Cox says this is “funny and inventive,” but is also a serious proposal because it’s a major way to bring a lot of ridicule down on our campaign finance system and those who abuse and take advantage of it. The rich — and the corporations — can raise and spend as much money as they want on behalf of the candidates of their choice thanks to two disastrous Supreme Court decisions saying that money is free speech. Those decisions gave the loudest and strongest voices to those with the most money, which isn’t what democracy is supposed to be about.
It’ll be interesting to see if Cox manages to actually get this on California’s ballot and even more interesting to see what happens if it passes. Perhaps California will become a model for how to get big money out of politics. It’s more likely that the state legislature would find a way around it, though.