Jimmy Carter calls US campaign finance ruling 'legalised bribery'


#1

theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/03/carter-says-campaign-finance-2010-citizens-united-ruling-legalised-bribery

**Jimmy Carter calls US campaign finance ruling ‘legalised bribery’

Former American president Jimmy Carter has warned that US politics has been corrupted by billions of dollars of campaign financing following a supreme court ruling that he said legalised “bribery”.**

He described the landmark 2010 Citizens United court decision, which equated campaign spending with free speech, as an “erroneous ruling”.

Speaking after the Iowa caucuses, in which Republican candidates spent $43m on TV advertising and Democratic candidates spent $16.8m, Carter said the domination of money in politics represented the biggest change since he was elected president in 1976.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I didn’t have any money. Now there is a massive infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns for all the candidates. Some candidates like Trump can put in his own money but others have to be able to raise a $100m to $200m just to get the Republican or Democratic nomination. That’s the biggest change in America.”

Without mentioning it by name, he blamed the Citizens United ruling, which paved the way for Super Pac funding vehicles that many fear are being used by big business to buy political influence.

Carter said: “The erroneous ruling of the supreme court, where millionaires, billionaires, can put in unlimited amounts of money, give legal bribery the chance to prevail, because all the candidates, whether they are honest or not, or whether they are Democratic or Republican, depend on these massive infusions of money from very rich people in order to have money to campaign.”

The former peanut farmer turned Democratic president claimed that middle- and working-class Americans were being “cheated out of an opportunity to improve their lot in life”.

“As the rich people finance the campaigns, when candidates get in office they do what the rich people want. And that’s to let the rich people get richer and richer and the middle class get left out. All the statistics show that the middle class are stagnant or going down in their income for the work that they do.”

He added: “When I ran against Gerald Ford, or later Ronald Reagan, we didn’t raise a single penny to finance our campaign against each other … nowadays you have to have hundreds of millions of dollars to prevail.”


#2

I find it distasteful that he is dissing US political candidates and now SCOTUS while on foreign soil, TBH.


#3

It is distasteful.


#4

And yet there are people arguing about how “classy” the man is in a topic a few lines down. Please. He’s been badmouthing American policies on foreign soil for decades. If there is anyone who inspires pride in being American, it ain’t Jimmy Carter.


#5

I call Citizens United free speech. One of my many pet peeves is that all losing politicians blame the fact that they were outspent or that they could not get their message out. Usually the truth is that their message was rejected. It takes humility to accept that, and that is a rare virtue for politicians.


#6

Yeah, we can see how Jeb Bush, the best funded candidate has the highest ratings and swept the Iowa caucuses.


#7

Lots of money cannot make up for a bad message or an incompetent politician. Just ask Meg Whitman.


#8

Each candidate will wind up spending near $1,000,000,000 (a billion dollars, which equals one thousand millions) for a job that pays $400,000 a year (less than half of one of those thousand millions).

Someone’s benefitting from the power to control the countries’ purse…


#9

As far as I know, it has never been different. It’s just that the prices have gone up.


#10

While I agree that Mr. Carter should not have made the comment outside the U.S., I agree with his point. The last 2 presidential candidates spent almost a billion dollars each (that’s one thousand millions) during the election process for a job that pays a few hundred thousand.

Someone’s benefitting from donating all that money.


#11

If we really want to reduce the influence of money in politics, I can think of a few ideas:

  1. Prohibit political advertising on television. Of course, this would be a restriction on free speech, but a lot of people would welcome it.

  2. If you have to have political advertising on TV, require that every political ad must be at least two minutes in length. (That would cut it down a lot.)

  3. Do away with the primary system and go back to the old way of party regulars selecting candidates in smoke filled rooms. Democratic and Republic party members who are active in their party, attend meetings regularly, and show up for a lengthy caucus would get to vote for delegates to the convention. Delegates would not be bound to a particular candidate.


#12

Liberals and the media aren’t really interested in getting $$ out of politics.

They only want :

  1. to get rid of conservative money in politics (unions actually are the biggest contributors by far)

  2. to be able to coax low-info millennial socialists-leaners while winking at Wall Street


#13

You guys realise that you are posting on the World Wide Web, right?

Any time you call Hillary a criminal, slam a SCOTUS decision or complain about “America being broken” on this site, you are doing exactly what you criticized him for. This thread, these forums, are international. Or…do you only think it is disgraceful to trash Republicans?


#14

This (at least points 1 and 2; point 3 for major party leaders is at best arguable these days), is essentially the case in the UK (additionally, there is a legal obligation for TV news programmes to provide balanced coverage of political issues).

While our democratic system is hardly in its finest fettle either, there is no political advertising on TV; each party (or candidate/point of view, depending on what’s going on) is allotted slots of usually prime-ish time on free-to-air channels (eg the BBC), of a few minutes at a time, to actually talk about issues and policies. While they’re not always very interesting it does prevent a) media swamping by the best-funded candidates or parties (which would usually be the Conservatives here) and b) the nation going insane for the 6 weeks of the election campaign.

To add to your suggestions, limiting any advertising, overt campaigning, etc, until the final say 6 weeks before an election, might also help.

Whatever the merits of how and where Pres. Carter made these comments, he’s not entirely wrong that there IS undeniably truckloads of cash in American politics. Most levelheaded people who do not have a vested in that system, would be insane to suggest that it’s actually a really good idea.


#15

And yet no American voter, I imagine, would willingly concede that his vote has been bought. So if nobody’s vote was bought, why did the campaigns waste all that TV money?


#16

It’s not your vote being bought, it’s theirs. Have you changed your mind about who you are going to vote for this campaign? Would you say that you changed your mind as you became more familiar with the new person? Or changed because you heard more negative things about the previous person?

You need to have heard of a person to want to vote for them, and you hearing about them costs the campaigns money. People who fork over large amounts of money do so because they want a return on their investment.


#17

The problem is—too much direct democracy. In prior decades, there were few primaries, and in some cases, primaries were called “beauty contests,” because the outcome didn’t matter in the selection of delegates. Delegates were selected by party regulars during party caucuses. And delegates were not always bound by the outcome of a primary. There could be some actual negotiating going on at the convention. I liked it that way. I don’t want to hear from every Tom, Charlie, and Sam who can raise funds for TV commercials. The selection should be narrowed down before I have to even think about them.

The nation’s founders, of course, would be appalled by the amount of direct democracy now involved in the selection process for national candidates. Influencing individual voters is an expensive proposition, and inevitably increases the importance of early money.


#18

There is very little that they wouldn’t be aghast over, really. Black people voting, women voting, parties, campaigning, the whole notion of sending American troops overseas to fight in foreign wars, basically anything that any candidate (Democrat or Republican) has said over the course of the campaign would likely horrify them.

I think Washington was the last president that really embodied their ideals.


#19

But I think it was Jefferson who first sent U.S. marines to Tripoli to fight those who were holding U.S. ships and citizens for ransom. Congress thought that it would be cheaper just to pay the tribute/tax/ransom; but Jefferson said something like “millions for defense, not one penney for tribute.”

But the main point is that most of them did consider direct democracy to be a bad idea. Heck, we don’t even trust the representatives that we ourselves elect, but want them to vote our own position on every vote–an impossibility. If we’re just going to elect reps who vote our way on every issue, might as well eliminate the Congress and have direct votes of the people on every issue. And that would be a disaster.


#20

No, make it free as a condition of having a broadcast license. Candidates should be entitled to X minutes depending on which office they are running for.

  1. If you have to have political advertising on TV, require that every political ad must be at least two minutes in length. (That would cut it down a lot.)

Meh. I dunno about that one.

  1. Do away with the primary system and go back to the old way of party regulars selecting candidates in smoke filled rooms. Democratic and Republic party members who are active in their party, attend meetings regularly, and show up for a lengthy caucus would get to vote for delegates to the convention. Delegates would not be bound to a particular candidate.

Yes! And movie the bigger states further up in the primaries. Giving Iowa and NH first shot at picking our president is ridiculous. I once heard a woman in NH being interviewed, asked what she though of (whoever) she said “I don’t know, I’ve only met him four times”.
I understand that it’s in NH’s constitution that they will have the 1st primary. I wish my state would pass a law scheduling ours "one week before New Hampshire.


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