US Presidential Election Is So Corrupt Even The Person In Charge Says She Has No Power To Stop Abuse

from the pay-to-play dept

If you were holding onto the faint hope that federal election campaigns were ever going to be anything but "buy your way into office" spending sprees, you may as well kiss it goodbye. The Federal Election Committee's head has just admitted her agency is completely powerless to do the one thing it's supposed to be doing.

The leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reining in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign, which could generate a record $10 billion in spending.

“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”
It's not often you hear a public official openly state that the agency under her control can't do its job. Usually, excuses are made, bucks are passed and talking points spun to give the illusion that agencies are not only capable of performing their duties, but could be oh-so-much-better if they weren't hobbled by everything but themselves. This is refreshing -- if ultimately depressing -- honesty.

Much of the problem is the system itself. Like the elections it's unsuccessfully regulating, it's subject to the whims of two diametrically-opposed political parties. There are six commissioners: three Democrats and three Republicans. What was intended to be fair has instead devolved into gridlock, with the two parties rarely reaching an agreement on anything. This is the behavior of the supposed adults in the room:
Some commissioners are barely on speaking terms, cross-aisle negotiations are infrequent, and with no consensus on which rules to enforce, the caseload against violators has plummeted.
With the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision loosening restrictions on campaign spending, it has been left up to the Commission to police campaign funding abuse. Sadly, it's not that the Commission lacks the power to do so. It's that it lacks commissioners willing to rise above the base level of partisan politics to do it.

Again, these are the people -- all supposedly mature adults -- who are supposed to be safeguarding the electoral process.
[T]he six commissioners hardly ever rule unanimously on major cases, or even on some of the most minor matters. Last month at an event commemorating the commission’s 40th anniversary, even the ceremony proved controversial. Democrats and Republicans skirmished over where to hold it, whom to include and even whether to serve bagels or doughnuts. In a rare compromise, they ended up serving both.
There's $10 billion headed into the pockets of presidential candidates, and commissioners aren't going to do much more than taxpayer-funded paychecks while muttering insults at opposing party members. And while the Oval Office goes on the auction block, the Commission will be arguing over baked goods.

Filed Under: ann ravel, corruption, federal election committee, money in politics, politics, presidential campaign


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 6:26am

    it's subject to the whims of two diametrically-opposed political parties

    Really? I think they are essentially the same. They just differ on social policies or things that benefit the citizenry it seems. One wishes to throw a few bread crumbs to the people, the other not. As far as Right and Left Wing go (highly outdated these days) you are talking about an extreme Right Wing party and a Far Right Wing party. When it comes to working to themselves and to maintain the system they are about the same pile of turd.

    What was intended to be fair has instead devolved into gridlock, with the two parties rarely reaching an agreement on anything

    The US needs more political parties. Needs. Badly.

    In any case this is more evidence that the system can't be fixed from the inside only. It needs heavy outside pounding. Things like Baltimore and Ferguson where people actually go and wreak havoc and are noticed.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 8:23am

      Re:

      Really? I think they are essentially the same.

      You are missing the biggest distinction between parties, and that is they are tribes with different names, and this is the most important distinction between them. It means that the other tribes are always wrong, even when they want the same law passed.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 11:16am

        Re: Re:

        This. On all levels. We're beyond 10,000 in this little experiment called civilization and we are still all tribal like. If we can't move beyond that paradigm we are done.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 4 May 2015 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      it's subject to the whims of two diametrically-opposed political parties

      Really? I think they are essentially the same.

      In the U.S., "diametricall-opposed political parties" is more about the seating arrangement.

      And the U.S. has to show itself to being above the one-party Communist systems with its embarrassingly uniform voting results.

      So the Land of the Free chose to embrace the bipolar party system. Or rather the the bipolar party system embraced the Land of the Free and will squeeze it until it drops dead.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 8:37am

      Re:

      The US needs more political parties. Needs. Badly.


      Agreed. I mentioned this before on here, but it bears repeating:

      In 2003, I was living in Argentina. It was an interesting time, and one of the things that happened was a presidential election. There were five major candidates, and in the end it came down to two guys, where the margin of victory was smaller than the margin of error. Former president Carlos Ménem, trying to win his way back into La Casa Rosada (in the USA we have the White House; the Argentine equivalent is the Pink House,) garnered a very narrow plurality of the vote, with Néstor Kirchner coming in a very close second.

      The most recent US election at the time was the one in 2000, and we all remember what a horrendous mess that was. (For values of "all" including US citizens who are not significantly younger than myself.) So it was interesting to watch what happened.

      The short version is, instead of wasting time and money on endless recounts and re-recounts and re-re-recounts and court cases and whatnot, they scheduled a runoff election in a few weeks' time. But here's the interesting thing: that runoff election never happened. It quickly became clear that almost everyone who had not voted for Ménem the first time was going to support Kirchner in the runoff, and so Ménem conceded. And I couldn't help but think, this is so much more civilized than the way we did it. (And when a perpetual basket case of a nation like Argentina has more civilized elections than we do, you know something's seriously wrong!)

      But something like that can't happen without multiple strong parties in the first place.

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      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re:

        Argentine has its own share of issues but they have very politicized people. Not in a "Republicans vs Democrats" way no. In the US people bicker over petty issues, car brand and size of their moral penises when it comes to politics so nothing remotely serious or needed is actually discussed. And God forbid a political discussion including members of the opposite parties start in a bar. Blood will most likely ensue.

        In Argentina from what I've heard from friends that spent time there as tourists and living there you can discuss politics in the bar without it devolving into some mindless swearing show devoid of facts and they actually participate in their political lives (I can tell it seems to be like that in Chile too). For a multi-party system to work the people need to engage AND be civilized. Brazil has a very similar system, we have various parties and yet we are devolving into a "Right vs Pseudo-left" mentality just like the US. Try to discuss politics in the bar here. You'll be labeled boring and largely made fun of. I don't need to go far to show what's the result of this kind of mentality, most people here probably heard of Pasadena.

        In any case, truth be said, Argentina has very bad luck with their politicians...

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 10:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think "civilized" comes from the fact that it is not a zero sum game and the political engagement comes from the relatively lower barrier of entry into politics. Don't get me wrong, most countries see an increase in attack ads near elections, but in the end, you may win a pyrrhic victory if you only attack the opponent since an ally of you or them will be able to take advantage of such a tactic.

          What is happening in international politics is an increase in data and therefore a need for politicians to be more pragmatic rather than ideological. In the olden times that wasn't the case. Today we are acting in a globalized political world and that has made being in government all the more important since the global political agenda mostly bypasses the parliaments (IE. Fast track). The "think tanks" of today aren't able to make numbers disappear even if they are very creative and international numbers have become significant enough today to weaken their contibution.

          Money in politics is a global problem and I haven't seen a country with a truely dependent way of curbing the political campaigning by private interests or the economic contribution dilemmas. Actually USA has some of the best laws in that regard, I know of. If only they were capable of enforcing them properly...

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 10:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Don't get me wrong, most countries see an increase in attack ads near elections,

            Do they? This may not be accurate, but I've read that in "most countries" with democratic elections, attack ads are flat-out illegal.

            And whether that's true or not, I would definitely like it to be true in the USA! We voted in our last three presidents, not because of who they were, but because of who they were not, (Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama all got into office skillfully riding a wave of backlash and positioning themselves as the opposite of the guy before them,) and all three have been disastrous presidents. We need to put a stop to it.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 11:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Attacking opposing political campaigns will always have to be legal and attacking persons on an evidence based ground is always allowed outside of really problematic regimes. Attacking opposing political stances instead of answering questions as an evasion and rude interruption in debates combined with harsher strawman attacks are on the rise here in western Europe (Look at the last french presidential election, the current british elections and particularly Netherlands and Denmark!). The right wing parties are particularly good at using these tricks.

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    • icon
      Teamchaos (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:04pm

      Re:

      In any case this is more evidence that the system can't be fixed from the inside only. It needs heavy outside pounding. Things like Baltimore and Ferguson where people actually go and wreak havoc and are noticed.

      Advocating violence is wrong. No matter what your aim is, it's still wrong. It is just a wrong for thugs to burn down and loot businesses as it was for McVeigh to bomb the federal building in OKC. This nation is taking an ugly turn. I'm surprised and disappointed that TechDirt permits calls for violence in the comments section.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:31pm

        Re: Re:

        It's called 'freedom of speech', something the site is very much in favor of, and tossing out vague ideas that the only thing that gets noticed these days are big, flashy, and yes, violent at times, events is hardly a 'call for violence' except in the most vague of senses.

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        • icon
          Teamchaos (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 6:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So statements like "It needs heavy outside pounding ... where people actually go and wreak havoc..." are considered "hardly a 'call for violence' except in the most vague of senses"?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re:

        I agree with the essence of your nonviolent message. Violence in this context is indeed very, very wrong. (We may differ in that I think there do exist rare circumstances where violence is, if not right, at least justified. Defending yourself or others against a violent attack, for example.)

        That said...

        "I'm surprised and disappointed that TechDirt permits calls for violence in the comments section."

        I'm actually pleased that these comments aren't removed -- I think these comments have social value. Although I think that there is line that can be crossed, generalized expressions of rage that include violent commentary doesn't cross it, in my opinion.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 3:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I have reported posts calling for very graphic attacks on certain politicians (causing them death).

          This is what these people do with people they don't know far away and still manage to sleep at night.

          We're better than that, ok? Let's consider half of them Agent Provocateurs made to make some websites/forums get some bad publicity by accident.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 7:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "I have reported posts calling for very graphic attacks on certain politicians (causing them death)."

            As have I. Threats directed at specific people, or specific calls for violence cross the line, in my opinion.

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      • icon
        tqk (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re:

        I'm surprised and disappointed that TechDirt permits calls for violence in the comments section.

        That's outsourced to the NSA. Don't worry, they're watching. In my case, Canada is about to pass C-51, and we'll all soon be in jail for even suggesting Harper's gov't is toadying to the USA. There goes the neighbourhood; Fortress North America.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 3:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          We can still vote him out soon enough man. And that law is causing major upheaval, it's not everyday the Official Opposition invites previous still alive Prime Ministers from opposite parties to fight the point.

          Herr Harper won't destroy Canada, he has damaged it enough with his stolen 2011 majority (most of southern ontario being blue makes no sense and a lot of it can be blamed on robocalls...)

          In any case, it's easy to speak of a wannabe stalin in code, the Russians did so with a much crazier guy as head of state.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 11:46am

        Violence

        Advocating violence is necessary and inevitable.

        At the point that we decide that we cannot change the system from within, it means we're going to encounter resistance that is willing to use force to sustain the status quo, and that means meeting that force with force, albeit not in a stand-up chessboard-style pitched battle.

        Regarding rioters (or as you called them thugs burning and looting businesses -- is thugs the new niggers? Do we call rioting Kievians thugs? Londoners? Longviewers? Los Angelinos?), they are a natural consequence of mismanaged large gatherings, including protests and sports events. The threat of riot is the consequence that gives public protest leverage. If they were all parades in which people went home at the end, they'd be ignored politically. And it's telling that our officials send the police to respond to riots prematurely in heavy force so that they can ignore them so. It brings us to that quote by Kennedy about making peaceful protest impossible.

        It's important to keep in mind the status-quo is positively awful for a large number of people out there. While we sit here pondering to what degree we should be allowed to even suggest violent recourse, they're starving or getting murdered one-by-one by law-enforcement, or being forced to work for meager pay under oppressive conditions or they're hiding their true natures from intolerant and paranoid neighbors. They're in a situation where change is necessary and they're suffering every single day that change doesn't yet come. That's exactly the sort of situation in which violence is justified -- provided the violence actually does something.

        McVeigh's problem is that he lashed out. He invoked a big violence that was only a protest, rather than implementing the change he wanted. His attack encompassed the very worst of terrorism. It's more than just a lot of people died, but a lot of people died unnecessarily who weren't directly involved in the mechanisms that McVeigh was protesting, and ultimately they were replaced with other people. No change was made.

        And so from a statecraft perspective, assassination is elegant. Removal of a single person who is abusing his power, especially if he is to be replaced by someone who will not, or at least will less so. More elegant still, is character assassination, where the target lives but is removed from position. But that's very hard to do.

        I advocate sabotage. Cell-phone tower spoofers are an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, and they're still legal only because the agencies that use them have been obtuse as to their nature. Better yet, once the sites were neutralized, they might not even report them given that might raise questions as to their purpose.

        Oh yeah, and in the meantime, every day of our inaction, every day that we are not pushing forward the revolution effort is a day that drone strikes are killing fifty civilians to one person-of-interest. It's a day that the extrajudicial detainment and torture program continues. It's a day that government agents and monied interests continue to operate and abuse their position of being above the law. And we the people are responsible for changing that. So every day we don't act is a day that violence is conducted in the name of the United States. In our name.

        If you could halt the Nazi Todeslager from operating -- even for a single day -- with a Molotov cocktail, why wouldn't you? It's the same here. (Yes, it's pretty bad.)

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 6:47am

    "Corporations are people, too!"

    The second corporations were allowed to contribute to election campaigns was the second democracy died.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 9:37am

      Re:

      Agreed. It says 'We the people...' for a reason. IMO, We, the people, means, We, the people (and not the government or corporations)...

      damn, the 'legal' definition... We loose again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 10:20am

      Re:

      No, the second politicians were allowed any say in how they were elected is when democracy died.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 10:27am

        Re: Re:

        How broadly should we interpret that, considering that it was a bunch of politicians who wrote the Constitution?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 12:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What's you point?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You're right. Okay, how about once there was an FEC, why were politicians still involved in the process? Why are sitting politicians the FEC commissioners? Why's Congress allowed any say in redistricting (gerrymandering) or voters' rights?

          The FEC is just a sop to the populists and wasn't ever intended to hand these powers off to a neutral party? That's the way it appears.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cal, 5 May 2015 @ 8:48am

      Re:

      "The second corporations were allowed to contribute to election campaigns was the second democracy died"

      Are you talking about the democratic PROCESS of voting? Because America is not now, nor has she ever been, a democracy. Nor will she ever be one.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 10:31am

        Symantics.

        The United States is a representative democracy (in contrast to, say, a participatory democracy) so in that regard it is a democracy. It's parliamentary system makes it a republic.

        It's also a federation in that the national laws take precedent over state or county laws (more or less, with exceptions like the recent pot decriminalizations or territories where polygyny is the norm, which depend on the the weakness of federal enforcement)

        However, the notion of American being a democracy is parallel to its precept of Government by the people, for the people. and this is the very fundamental that is challenged when the engine by which we choose representatives is corrupted. That's what they're talking about.

        So, while there's pedantic merit to the question of whether or not the United States is a democracy, when it comes to discussing the disenfranchisement of the common American, this discussion only gets in the way.

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  • identicon
    Guardian, 4 May 2015 @ 8:32am

    NIXON is PROUD OF YOU AMERICA

    you made his dream of bribery for all a reality

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 11:11am

      Re: NIXON is PROUD OF YOU AMERICA

      To be fair, Nixon was less about wanting a corrupted system and more about accepting and working within a corrupted system.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Paul Renault (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 8:34am

    "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

    "two (pick one: strategically, reflexively, apparently, not-really) diametrically-opposed political parties"

    From the point of view of a neighbour to the north, the US political system doesn't really offer a clear/any choice to the electorate. Witness the range of political discussion [that's allowed] in the mass media and on C-SPAN. It's like watching two people discuss whether they should paint the kitchen salmon or peach.

    Compare this with the range of political opinion that's expressed in other countries' parliaments.

    It's been evident to many, and for some time now, that this is because the electorate doesn't count. The only thing that counts, are the donors.

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 8:42am

      Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

      To be fair, things are changing quite a bit in the last couple years, with the emergence of Elizabeth Warren and the "Warren Wing" on the political scene. We've got people actually talking very seriously about breaking up the big banks, mass debt forgiveness on student loans, expanding Social Security by raising taxes on the rich rather than cutting it in an attempt to keep it solvent for longer, and all sorts of stuff that would have been essentially unthinkable ten years ago.

      (Note: I'm not advocating all this stuff. I agree with some parts of it and disagree with other parts. But it's a fact, not a matter of opinion, that a strong, viable, closer-to-diametrically-opposed political platform is currently emerging in US politics. It'll be interesting to see where it goes.)

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      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

        That's good to hear but it should come as a party not a single person wing. I like the bank breaking and the student debt forgiveness. As for the taxes, equality speaks louder than rising taxes to the rich. Just charge the same from everybody and impose a bigger cut to things inherited above a medium value.

        Interesting indeed.

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        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 10:08am

          Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

          It's not "a single person wing." It's a faction within the Democratic Party that call themselves "the Warren Wing" because they subscribe to her views. It's still fairly new, so the name might not last as things continue to progress. (I kind of hope it does change, actually; if you're for an idea, you should be for it because it's a good idea, not because some person, even an admirable person, is for it.) But for the moment, that's what they're calling it.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

        Warren is indeed a very interesting woman in politics. But it seems she is mostly isolated on the left wing outside of the big tent democrats. I expect a political movement based on the racial issue to gain some traction in the left-wing too.

        One could say religious right has its movement in the tea-party and the libertarians were an invention of its own, but again these aren't accepted as or by main stream republicans either.

        It would be nice to see centralistic movements entering the fights. One that can gain enough momentum to actually win in a primary. So far the nineties and beyond looks like a move towards more and more power to the extreme elements in particularly the republican party (after the tea-party was swallowed by the religious right), resulting in a lack of interest in being cooperative and pragmatic as it damages their voting records as measured by their primary donors. While the current people are slightly better than the last bunch for tactical reasons, they aren't centralists. Revolution from the middle "Ca Ira!".

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 10:37am

          Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

          "It would be nice to see centralistic movements entering the fights"

          We need to address a different problem before this can happen: the political spectrum has been shifted so far to the right that anyone who is truly centrist appears to be leftist in comparison.

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 11:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

            ...in some issues. Definitely in regards to money and corporate power.

            Socially, on the other hand, if anyone from the 80s or even the 90s were to look at the state of US politics today and the way that things like marijuana legalization and gay marriage have gotten such widespread acceptance, they'd say we've moved crazy-far to the left. So it all depends on your perspective.

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 12:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

              Sortof.

              The issues you cite are only "conservative" issues due to timing. Whether they're "liberal" or "conservative" depends on the period of history we're looking at.

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        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 11:16am

          Centrists

          Aren't really centrists. They just have a set of positions that don't mesh with the progressive / conservative paradigm. It's not that they believe in moderated efforts or are dispassionate (though plenty are). And as John Fenderton notes, progressive and conservative are really rightist and righterist, respectively.

          Plenty of liberal views, or even unaffiliated views like Pirate views don't fit into the narrow gambit that defines US politics.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 11:17am

            Misremembered your name.

            John Fenderson. Not Fenderton. Sorry.

            Hope no-one got SWATted.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 11:50am

            Re: Centrists

            That is a media- and political-system issue.

            FPTP is extremely hard to enter for a third party and therefore the carreer politicians are forced into the two-party system. The two-party system has devolved into an economic industry with very little room to maneuver politically, locking the choises for political candidates further. There is constantly a dilemma of trying to cater to a voter group versus taking more economic contributions from the industry on an issue in the current system.

            The media are privately owned and increasingly tailored to gain a specific political platform to expand viewer/reader-base from. Most are more interested in increasing viewer/reader numbers and rentability as opposed to informing people and public services, which makes it easy for economic interests to influence the editorial decissions.

            None of these issues are trivial to solve in the current setting. The best we can hope for from my perspective are small improvements in our time and the only way to progress the issues is through a less partisan movent. Whether you call it centralist or whatever is irrelevant.

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            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 11:51am

              See "Violence" above.

              This is why we have to think outside the current system.

              If we want our grandchildren to have a better system than the one we have, we can't leave it alone.

              It's corrupting faster, by far, than we can reform it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 12:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

          A left right axis is the wrong axis for measuring the problem with political systems today. Am anarchist totalitarian axis is a much better measure, as all political parties are drifting towards the totalitarian end of the scale, and improvements to the system really require winding states back towards the anarchistic end of the axis.
          This is not a call for anarchy, but a reduction in amount of state involvement in the individuals life.

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          • icon
            tqk (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:49pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

            Libertarians produced the best replacement, an X vs. Y diagram labeled with Economic (X) and Political/Social (Y) freedoms. It makes it easy to see how Nazism and Bolshevism got along so well together (both totalitarian), and why they ended up in competition with each other, while the US Founding Fathers were so admired by Ayn Rand (economic freedom and mostly individual freedom, for caucasians at least).

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            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 1:55pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

              I'm not so sure I agree. Rand's writings, and the people who subscribe to them, do not scream "freedom" to me. Just the opposite: they seem to be in favor of corporatocracy. In other words, they seem to be just fine with government having a heavy controlling hand in everyone's life, as long as that government consists of businesses.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 3:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "two diametrically-opposed political parties"? Wha?

              I don't see it as a 2-dimensional world either. Libertarians and particularly Ayn Rand bends perspectives on the world to their own interpretation.

              Rand ended up taking economic support from the state (hypocricy?) and supported very strong copyright protection (egoistic exceptions?). I don't see her ideas as an answer, but as a political ideology with some holes and I haven't seen a real universal consistency from the libertarians on some issues like (quid custodiet ipsos custodes?), particularly on corporate powers.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 8:34am

    At least they're being honest. Give em' points for that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 8:48am

    Regretfully...

    ...it's not just the Presidential elections; ALL elections for whatever offices have become dysfunctional.

    Just getting one's name on a ballot has become a chore. And the names that do get on the ballot; well let's just say I've been choosing the lesser of evils for some time now. I really wish there was a "none of the above" option.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 9:07am

      Re: Regretfully...

      None of the above is the correct answer. Simple vote for anyone other than the two major parties. If enough people vote for third parties, someone will notice.

      In the last election, I voted for the Peppa Pig Party. The one before that, the Simpsons Party. I'm thinking I'll vote for Waka Flocka Flame in 2016. He says he's running and since he's only 28, he's ineligible to serve. In my book, that makes him more qualified than anyone else on the ballot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 4:27pm

        Re: Re: Regretfully...

        I want a REAL "none of the above" selection. It must appear for every position being elected, and a simple majority of "none of the above" means ALL the candidates listed cannot run for the position again for at least one term. All new candidates must be selected for another election.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 4:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: Regretfully...

          I mentioned my observations of the Argentine electoral process above. This is another interesting point of theirs: legally, everyone is required to vote, with a few very specific, very narrow exemptions. But one of the valid choices is votar en blanco (to submit a blank ballot). Doing so is seen as a protest vote.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 5 May 2015 @ 11:55am

            The intentionally spoiled ballot

            Is recognized by the poll volunteers as a protest vote and they go into a protest file.

            I very seriously doubt any of the representatives in power care an iota about how many spoiled ballots are counted.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 11:57pm

        Re: Re: Regretfully...

        All this and not one vote for Vermin Supreme? You're just throwing away your ballots!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 8:55am

    Start calling for 1 percent tax on all Wall Street transactions.

    THIS VERY PIECE shows exactly why US politics is ridiculous. SAY ANYTHING instead of nattering -- not even about "issues" or politicians! -- but only the FEC here. Sheesh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 10:23am

    Why dont the just let the IRS handle it. Its all about money any way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 10:43am

    Disappointed

    She should mention names. Political figures should never be anonymous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ambrellite, 4 May 2015 @ 10:44am

    It was never intended to be fair

    "There are six commissioners: three Democrats and three Republicans. What was intended to be fair has instead devolved into gridlock..."

    Fair? It was always about keeping third parties out of the process. So that democracy doesn't get too "chaotic," you see. We wouldn't want voters to get confused by having too many choices, or they'd choose the wrong people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 10:59am

    what the hell?

    is this woman telling the truth?  that's no way to get along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 12:40pm

    The diametrically opposed political parties here ironically hamstring the FEC with infighting because they agree that neither of them want the FEC to be effective. Both parties are bought by the same corporations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 4 May 2015 @ 1:59pm

    FEC Is Just Another Acronym For US Government Tyranny

    “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”

    I bet Ann M. Ravel doesn't have any illusions cashing her pay check on friday, oh wait, Ann probably has direct deposit as most politically appointed lickspittle flunkies in DC do.

    What is the Federal Election Committee (FEC) good for?

    Absolutely nothing.... but defending the status quo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Molly McDoogle, 4 May 2015 @ 2:20pm

    diametrically-opposed political parties

    I don't think that word means what you think it means. On which issues are the views of, say, Hilary and Jeb, diametrically apposed? One stands for plundering and the other for pillaging. The "2-party" 1-party state is a crime syndicate. There is no legitimacy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jerry Herman, 4 May 2015 @ 5:50pm

    No kidding, there are reports Obama disabled all credit card security

    The Obama campaign intentionally disabled credit card security and probably took in 9 figures of foreign donations... and the FEC did nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 6:22pm

    No spot on the ballot for "no confidence". Give me that option and I will participate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2015 @ 6:43pm

    I think it's worth pointing this article out every time Slonecker, average_joe or any of the other copyright bootlickers say "Well if you're so unhappy about how things are, get the law changed" or some variant of that asinine comment.

    When the people in charge of ensuring that the system of getting leaders in place is free of abuse admit that no one has any power to stop the abuse, there's no hope in expecting anything to change - not by going up the chain of command.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    justme, 4 May 2015 @ 9:08pm

    Campaign Funding. . .

    Presidential campaign funding should be limited to public financing, where each citizen is allowed to donate up to a maximum amount, determined by a percentage of the median income of the country as a whole. You check a box on your taxes and write an amount up to that maximum. And "corporate persons" are allowed exactly the same as any other citizen.

    News and media outlets should be required to provide a limited amount of free and equal time for campaign advertising.

    No other form of contribution or gift should be allowed!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2015 @ 9:48pm

      Re: Campaign Funding. . .

      To really take the lure out of bri- I mean 'campaign contributions', you could expand that idea so that contributions are randomized, and anonymous.

      A person can donate up to a certain amount, but that money is put into a pool that all of those running use, making it impossible to tell who donated what, and giving all those running an equal footing(or as much as can be managed).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2015 @ 5:37am

        Re: Re: Campaign Funding. . .

        What does small fish like campaign contributions matter in fighting moneys power? The real economic problem lies in PACs and other third parties running ads:

        1. They are not forced by any special rules or fear of voter backlash making them able to run character assassinations 24/7.
        2. They are independent of the party lines, making them able to attack opponents on issues where the candidate has vested interests.
        3. They are officially out of the candidates control, making for probably deniability for the candidate if the third party goes over the line.
        4. Last presidential election, way more money was used by third party PACs compared to the politicians campaigns.

        Changing that train is pretty important too. In fact it is arguably more important if we want to avoid undue economic influence on politics since they are less responsible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ross perot, 4 May 2015 @ 11:12pm

    Ross perot was the last person to try pumping money in to overcome lack of popular support. He got maybe 5% of the vote. It not a huge problem in the US. You just don't like citizens united.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alex, 10 May 2015 @ 8:35am

    Self-fulfilling

    Why else have a woman in that role - they don't want it to be effective.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DJ, 28 Jul 2015 @ 4:32am

    The US presidential election is a joke, whoever has the most money will win, not the best candidate, everything in your country seems to revolve around money, power and greed. Dont get me started on your ridiculous gun laws, cops shooting African Americans, etc. etc. you could not pay me enough money to visit this corrupt country, and you have the cheek to criticise the Middle East etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    doyougetmesweetheart (profile), 3 Nov 2015 @ 10:53pm

    Powerless To Stop Campaign Funding Abuse?

    If the six commissioners are unwilling to do the job they were hired to do - regardless of the reason for their unwillingness - then they should be fired. Wipe the slate clean, and get rid of them! If this is indeed valid - it can't be tolerated. My goodness, they are in control of part of the process that will ultimately result in seating an individual in the highest office in the land.

    And, as for Ann Ravel, the head of this useless organization - who hopelessly stated that "her agency is completely powerless to do the one thing it's supposed to be doing" - and she just left it there, hanging in the wind. Since she feels so "powerless", that means that she's not very effective in her management either - so get rid of her too. Why pay people that can't get the job done that they were hired to do, and let them continue to flounder? DO something about it.

    I say that "The People" should oversee the whole affair. I'd gladly volunteer lots of time to oversee the miscreants who Ms. Ravel says her agency can't control. Any other strident Patriots out there who want to join me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Danny Chan, 10 Jan 2016 @ 12:56am

    Is United States presidential election false universal suffrage?

    "Alliance for True Democracy" defines "true universal suffrage" as "universal suffrage” (or "general election”) with no "screening" or no "pre-selection mechanism" or with "real choice" or "freedom of choice" or "citizen nomination". Universal suffrage with "screening" or "pre-selection mechanism" or with no "real choice" or no "real freedom of choice" or no "citizen nomination" is "false universal suffrage."

    According to the "true universal suffrage" defined by "Alliance for True Democracy", democratic countries around the world do not have so-called "true universal suffrage” and presidential elections in democratic countries are "false universal suffrage."

    For example, United States presidential election is dominated by two biggest political parties (Democratic party and Republican party), thereby indirectly restrict other political parties or independent candidates to win. In other words, the voters has no real choice or no freedom of choice to elect president and vice president. "One country two biggest political parties" architecture precisely makes presidential election unfair and unjust. We oppose to big enterprise to monopolize the market, why we do not oppose to the "one country two biggest political parties" to monopolize president election? Why we do not oppose to the election mode of "one country two biggest political parties"?

    Legal qualification (reasonable limit or threshold or gateway) for United States president and vice president candidates must be at least 35 years of age, native-born citizens of the US, and have been residents of the US for at least 14 years. Thus, the legal qualification deprives the right of US citizens who below 35 years old or reside in the U.S. less than 14 years to be voted, but also deprive voters of the right to choose and vote them.

    US president and vice president candidates are "screened" through presidential primary elections and caucuses held in each state, and the presidential nominating conventions held by each political party. Voters in each state cast ballots for a slate of party delegates who then officially nominate their party's presidential candidate. Some delegates are selected by state "primary" elections, some are selected by state caucuses. Most political parties hold their nominating conventions and officially vote for their presidential candidate. "Screening" to the end, only two candidates (Democratic and Republican representatives) are allowed to be elected by "one person one vote". In other words, US voters have no real choice or no freedom of choice to elect their own liked candidates for US president and vice president.

    US voters elect presidential electors in "electoral college". The electors then votes for president and vice president. However, the "electoral votes" can not effectively reflect the wishes of the Americans. It is because the "electoral votes", but not "one person one vote", decides who is the US president. Otherwise, George Bush would not have won. United States presidential election has fair and equitable participation right, but do not have “one person one vote” right of electing president.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DENISE STIFF, 9 May 2016 @ 6:09pm

    NOTA, NOPE, NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

    CIVIL DISOBEDIANCE AND THE NO VOTE

    I GUESS YOU CAN STAY HOME AND NOT VOTE BUT WHAT IF A MAJORITY OF REGISTERED AMERICAN VOTERS SHOW UP AT THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY, STEP INTO THE VOTER BOOTH, DON'T DO ANYTHING TO THEIR BALLOT, AND WHILE STUFFING THEIR UNMARKED BALLOT IN THE BOX SAY I VOTED FOR NO ONE. WOULDNT THAT BE SOMETHING IF WE SHOWED UP TO VOTE AND THEN NOT VOTE AND TELL THEM. SURELY SOMEONE WOULD NOTICE IF WE DID THIS IN DROVES. AN INFINITELY BETTER CHOICE THEN VOTING FOR NO ONE AND NO ONE SEES YOU NOT VOTING BECAUSE YOUR SITTING ON THE COUCH AT HOME PROTESTING.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 9 May 2016 @ 8:55pm

      Re: NOTA, NOPE, NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

      Sadly, it's very difficult to get droves of people to engage in unconventional behavior, including voting for a third party. Much less protesting with a blank, spoiled or write-in ballot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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