How can money have a smaller role in elections?

A viewer asked this question on 2/17/2000:

Most large contributors expect to get something in return for their "investment" and is in my opinion the greatest source of political patronage and other evils in our political system. Do you see any way that this situation could be changed?

JesseGordon gave this response on 2/17/2000:

That issues is the basis for the entire debate on campaign finance reform. McCain & Bradley have focused their presidential campaigns on that issue; both say that removing money from the process would address the problem. Their solutions, and the solutions of the other candidates, are:

Bradley: Ban soft money (which means, disallow donations to political parties, which would limit donations to $1000 to individual candidates). And ban PACs (the "political action committees" which make the large soft money donations)

McCain: Also focuses on banning soft-money, via his "McCain-Feingold" bill in the Senate. That bill attempts to be bi-partisan by banning both corporate donations (which help Republicans) and union donations (which help Democrats).

Gore: Would replace soft money with full public financing of election campaigns.

Bush: Opposes limits on contribution; he would clean up the process by requiring full disclosure of every donation.

Keyes: Calls all campaign rules "incumbency protection" and calls for unlimited donations, but only by people (not corporations, unions, nor PACs).

I've always thought that the problem, as you point out, is that contributions are "investments". I think the way to address that is to HIDE who makes the donation, rather than have more disclosure or less donations. Set it up so anyone can donate any amount they want, but the candidates don't know who donated what. Then people (and corporations and unions) would donate based on what they believe, rather than on expecting a returned favor. I believe most candidates would never consider that idea because it would REALLY reduce the amount of money available for campaigning!

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