Hillary or Bernie?

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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 01:54

Crunkus wrote:
Why do politicians waste so much time fundraising if it's not's effective at generating influence? Are they just horribly misinformed on the subject?


My thoughts on this are a bit more jumbled (I was about to call them "nuanced" and decided to just call a spade a spade), but essentially yes, past a certain point I think political elites have dramatically miscalculated how important fundraising is, and are just beginning to realize that now, despite at least a decade of public choice theory research indicating they're wrong, particularly when it comes to how influential dark money can actually be. To a certain extent that proves I'm wrong: if politicians believe money matters, then by virtue of that belief it does. For instance, there's speculation that Romney would have run again in 2016, but Jeb Bush boxed him out by locking down his donors. However, this fits with my theory that money is about signalling influence, not exerting influence. It's saying "the establishment prefers me to you, and they prefer me $125 million worth," not saying "I have this $125 million I can use to purchase votes." If that's true, campaign finance reform doesn't matter, because if we can't signal with huge unlimited and secret donations, we can signal some other way.

So if fundraising is signalling, it also tells us why politicians spend so much time doing it. Party members are signalling to several different groups: they are connecting with constituents (their donors are also their voters), they are showing their value to other party members to attempt to gain influence within the party, and, importantly they are trying to outraise their opponents to project dominance. That, in my opinion, is why fundraising has gone sky-high: it's a race to the top purely because neither side wants to look weak. I think that's part of why Sanders has been so successful. He has simply flipped the signalling script on money. He signals his strength not through the size of his total war chest, but through his numbers of donors.

Now, to be clear, money does matter in that you need 1) to get name recognition and 2) to hire the best staff you can, and keep them on-board. Once you pass that threshold, it's not obvious to me what additional influence more dollars accomplishes. I don't know exactly where that limit is, but I can pretty confidently say we're way past the point of more money having a measurable effect on outcomes. Like, I don't know a voter who's said anything like "OK, that was the tenth Romney ad I've seen and I've only seen four Obama ads, so I guess I'll change my vote and go with Romney this time around."



Crunkus wrote:If "people make it out to be" basically the only relevant variable, I'd say you have a point. But if they are simply making it out to be grossly more important than it should be, a well funded campaign going off the rails isn't proof of much really except of the existence of other relevant variables. I don't think it comes down to just few vs. many doners either. Money is prioritized because it can be used to generate influence and change minds. Money can fail to do so, be misspent in chasing this goal, but that doesn't mean it can't translate into an enormous amount of support and completely change the nature of the conversation surrounding an election.

Bolded mine. Do you have an example of that? I feel like it's common wisdom that isn't that well supported. How would a candidate spend money to change a voter's mind, above and beyond getting their message out there? You don't need a billion dollar campaign to get people to know your agenda, and once people know your agenda, how do you spend money to get them to change their vote?

Crunkus wrote:I've never particularly understood why a donation is considered exercising free speech. The concept that people are going to be somehow disenfranchised if they cannot donate money to political candidates is ridiculous. There's no reason for that nonsense that anyone's ever explained to me adequately. Free speech is actually threatened when you have more of it or less of it depending on the size of your bank account.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, to be honest. For me it doesn't pass the smell test to make this a Constitutional issue, especially if you're an originalist, there is no way in hell James Madison had concerns about ensuring citizens had the right to secretly give money to people when he was writing about free speech. A right to secret free speech is inherently absurd; "secret" speech doesn't need to be protected by the law any more than we need a Constitutional right to our imaginations, so the elision from "speech" to "donation" I don't think works.

Talking about just spending limits in general, though, I'm less sure. Surely at some point limiting somebody's ability to spend money impacts their right to free speech. We wouldn't tolerate "you have a right to free speech, but you may not spend any money on paper or pens or postage stamps." Obviously there's a dramatic gulf between that and "you may not purchase $15 million of television advertising," but I'm not sure on what principle we've decided $2,700 guarantees your right to free speech, but $2,701 is corruption.

Then again, we've always balanced an unlimited right to free speech with the potential impact of said speech, so if the state has a beneficial interest in limiting political spending, limit away. What precisely that beneficial interest would be is less clear to me. At a minimum, I'd say political spending is a tremendous waste of resources.
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 02:30

musashisamurai wrote:
This is actually something that the Koch brothers did to Scalia-Scalia also went on trips with Cheney, something brought up in a case about him.

This is chicken and egg stuff, though. Did the Koch brothers go on trips with Scalia to get him to vote their interests, or because he already votes their interest? Why aren't the Koch brothers taking Ruth Bader Ginsburg on trips? She's the real thorn in their side, if judges are purchasable they should have purchased her, not Scalia.


Well, heres onestory about Hillary.

So leaving aside Clinton's explanation for her vote, and settling into BernieBro "everything Clinton does is monstrous" mindset, I don't understand how "buying a politician" in this context is different from "serving your constituents." Even Warren admits that:
"She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency." Did Clinton cater to Wall Street as a Senator from New York? Absolutely. So does pretty much every New York representative.

Let me draw a comparison here. The UK has incredibly strict campaign finance laws. Elections there cost a tiny fraction of what they cost here, and campaigns often don't even spend what little money they have because there's so little they're allowed to spend on. Yet, people elected to represent London are notoriously protective of the finance industry, without regard to party or other priorities. So if that adherence to the finance industry is a bad thing we want to change, what do we expect is happening in London, that UK campaign finance regulations are simply failing to actually stop the industry from purchasing politicians? Or that regardless of the size of contributions, many politicians seek to advance the interests of major industries in their constituencies?

There are also allegations stemming from Clinton Foundation donations as well.

I'm not sure exactly what allegations you're referring to. There are, ahem, a few. I do think it's fairly apparent that the Clinton Global Initiative exists at least in part as a vehicle to reward and retain Clinton loyalists. "Great job on the campaign--here, cool your heels with a cushy job at CGI for a few years until the next campaign." I'm not sure what campaign finance reform would change about that.

In another more broad instance, the NRA has donated to 200 Republican congressmen, 11 democrat congressmen, and 11 republican senators-roughly 750k dollars. You can imagine how they vote. Boeing has their own PAC and is the second largest federal contractor-they regularly give millions, sometimes hundreds of millions.

Right, special interests support politicians who support policies they like. I'm not sure how that's different from saying "you just support Bernie Sanders because his education policy would benefit you." That's sorta how a democratic polity works. What's the allegation, that those congressmen wouldn't support gun rights if the NRA stopped giving? Or that those congressmen (or some politician with a similar view on guns) wouldn't have won those seats without NRA dollars? There's a test case here. In 2014, Bloomberg and other anti-gun allies poured $50 million into a various campaigns in a bid for gun control, actually outspending pro-gun organizations for the first time. Do, uh, do you see sweeping gun control policy? The campaign notched a few wins, a lot of losses, and from me no obvious impact beyond backlash for the spend in Colorado, and perhaps aiding the Democratic governor in Connecticut press the issue of gun control more effectively.

I think rural legislators support guns because their constituents support guns. Ditto Boeing, whose PAC unsurprisingly does an awful lot of spending in the areas in which Boeing employs tens of thousands of people.

At any rate, quid pro quo is pretty hard to prove in most instances, due to how these meetings are held. A handful of politicians have been charged with bribery, as well as the dozens of way you can bypass laws.

So bribery is actually illegal. I won't dispute that those kinds of "donations" are corruption. And I understand the follow-up: what's the difference between paying a politician and taking him to your tropical island for free? Frankly I'm not sure, but secrecy plays into it. Transparency is the cure to a lot of things, in my opinion, and I'm totally opposed to secret money in politics. But if you can defend an action you took publicly, and the voters accept it, then that's democracy.
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby musashisamurai » 28 Feb 2016, 03:15

BernieBro


Don't put words in my mouth. You asked for a specific example of a politician flip flopping-and I obliged. There are other reasons that she voted on it-but its an undeniable fact of how she voted and where she got money from.

You note I said that these things are complicated. She voted for it because of the riders-same reason Sanders voted for Clinton's crime bill in the 90s. But, whose to say that she wasn't more willing to overlook parts of that bill for the riders more easily because of the campaign funds, or if she decided it was best? Again, no one can know.

I'm not sure exactly what allegations you're referring to. There are, ahem, a few. I do think it's fairly apparent that the Clinton Global Initiative exists at least in part as a vehicle to reward and retain Clinton loyalists. "Great job on the campaign--here, cool your heels with a cushy job at CGI for a few years until the next campaign." I'm not sure what campaign finance reform would change about that.


I say allegations because nothing is proven, or even being investigated. Quid pro quo is hard to prove and many of the things Clinton was "bribed" into doing would have been done anyways. Did Boeing money to the Foundation sway the secretary into letting them export F-15s to Saudi Arabia? Did Arabian money? No one knows, but the license would probably have been granted anyways.

Also, before I address anything else

I'm not sure how that's different from saying "you just support Bernie Sanders because his education policy would benefit you."

It wouldn't. I go to a private college, and earned a full ride from them for academics. You could argue that any increase in taxes plus assuming more people end up with degrees, this might actually hurt me. Again, don't put words in my mouth. I do, actually, support him, but mostly for his grassroots style fundraising. Hillary after all has unveiled a similar education policy, and while it doesn't assure free tuition at state schools, does expand federal financial aid programs-which affect students everywhere, regardless of school type-I guess, I should vote for her based on that, since that would actually help me.

As for the NRA, check the polling of its members and their official stance. Locally, they do a lot of good-gun safety training, gun storage-but nationally, they oppose any new form of gun control which often includes new or stronger methods of enforcing old laws. They're also one of, if not the strongest, lobbying groups in DC. And while they do use their fund to support candidates-any candidate-who supports their policy, they favor incumbents with voting records. If you're a politician though, and can count on their money-essentially promised to you-would you sacrifice it on a vote? Nor does every rural politician vote against gun control.

EDIT
The Clintons catered to Wall Street before she was Senator. Glass-Steagall, anyone? It passed with bipartisan support. Citigroup which required Glass-Steagall's repeal due to earlier events (merging with another bank) gave 7.2 million away the year before it was due, and its next spike in lobbying would be in '07-'08, around the stimulus package and other events (Dodd-Frank, whether any execs would get charged, lots of stuff was happening).

I think its stupid, or at the very least, naive, to believe that when these groups give, they don't expect something in return. They're businesses, and lobbying tends to help their profit margins
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 03:45

I didn't call you a BernieBro or put words in your mouth. I said that I would be talking about that particular issue from a BernieBro mindset, because debating whether or not Hillary's claimed reason for voting for the legislation is sincere or not has little to do with the issue at hand. It's only a relevant discussion if I assume Hillay's vote changed because she began representing New York, so I made that assumption for the sake of argument. If her vote change really was because she'd gotten through the amendment she felt was necessary to protect vulnerable women and families, there's no discussion to be had about the influence of money on the decision.
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 03:49

I'm not sure how that's different from saying "you just support Bernie Sanders because his education policy would benefit you."

The "you" here was meant to be generic, my bad. It was a point about the soundness of arguments, not a personal attack. Would you consider "his education policy benefits me" to be a bad reason for a voter to support a candidate?
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Keirador » 28 Feb 2016, 04:26

I think its stupid, or at the very least, naive, to believe that when these groups give, they don't expect something in return. They're businesses, and lobbying tends to help their profit margins


I think they expect access. I think they'd get access even if we had tougher campaign finance reforms. They're important organizations. What did you think of my London example? Why are those politicians pro-finance even though they have very strict campaign finance laws?
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby rd45 » 28 Feb 2016, 12:48

Keirador wrote:. What did you think of my London example? Why are those politicians pro-finance even though they have very strict campaign finance laws?

Typically, British politicians collect their payoffs shortly after leaving office, rather than via campaign finance. There are many examples here of former ministers and govt officials accepting well paid roles from organisations that benefited from legislation which they personally had implemented.

Trivially, those politicians are also acting in the interests of their constituents while they pass such helpful legislation. But only if their constituents are understood to include entities that don't get to vote in the democratic sense of the word. So - such influence is by definition undemocratic.
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Crunkus » 28 Feb 2016, 16:41

Keirador wrote:Bolded mine. Do you have an example of that? I feel like it's common wisdom that isn't that well supported. How would a candidate spend money to change a voter's mind, above and beyond getting their message out there? You don't need a billion dollar campaign to get people to know your agenda, and once people know your agenda, how do you spend money to get them to change their vote?


It's hard to respond to what your question. "getting their message out there" is pretty vague and could be potentially applied to any form of communication that could be conceivably be employed to change someone's mind. Also it's important to nail down what you mean specifically by "change their vote". If we're to believe polls have really any merit whatsoever, generally speaking, the voting decisions of the electorate are changing over time for one reason or another quite a bit. Particularly given how long a period US candidates tend run for office, which is a large part of the problem.

Keirador wrote:Talking about just spending limits in general, though, I'm less sure. Surely at some point limiting somebody's ability to spend money impacts their right to free speech. We wouldn't tolerate "you have a right to free speech, but you may not spend any money on paper or pens or postage stamps." Obviously there's a dramatic gulf between that and "you may not purchase $15 million of television advertising," but I'm not sure on what principle we've decided $2,700 guarantees your right to free speech, but $2,701 is corruption.


It sounds like the concept behind such provisions is that generally speaking somewhere beyond here one cannot hope but expect significant quid pro quo and it's a concession that clearly it's imposing an artificial line where none exists with the intent of limiting an overall problem in much the same way as many laws arbitrarily do the same thing for similar reasons. That's a necessary absurdity inherent in law, not THIS law. It comes from laws requiring lines and clean lines not existing in reality. If someone is against such lines, they need to be aware of how many legal codes that actually puts the in opposition to.

We limit people's to spend money all the time. You can't use your money to do a number of things that are considered illegal. We require it to be tracked, ceded to the state and subject to federal detailed audits without cause. Is this an interruption of free speech? It's a limiting on what you can use your money to buy, among other things, but I'm not sure that's the same thing. At some point equating money to speech has to be revealed as an attempt to legally protect behaviour as strongly as a sacred cow which is protected very strongly. Don't agree with my right to spend my money as I please? You must be against free speech. You're right of course with regard to limiting free speech with the potential impact of said speech. But I'm sorry, but what behaviour cannot simply be referred to as expression, and therefore speech? If speech means everything, speech means nothing. How is ALL behaviour not similarly enshrined? The Supreme Court has pretty much only said as much on what free speech includes and doesn't include as at needed to at the time...and really on a pretty arbitrary basis. Free speech may be important...but it's basically undefined. It's one of those many situations where it's up to various people to know it when they see/hear it (unless a specific enough example has already been ruled upon...hopefully "correctly"), and if you don't agree, appeal until it gets to the Supreme Court.

Keirador wrote:Then again, we've always balanced an unlimited right to free speech with the potential impact of said speech, so if the state has a beneficial interest in limiting political spending, limit away. What precisely that beneficial interest would be is less clear to me. At a minimum, I'd say political spending is a tremendous waste of resources.


If it must be artificially understood as speech in a way plenty of other forms of "expression behaviour" are not, you can talk about the impact of said "speech" and balancing it. The impact of candidates making their way to office in a large part based upon their ability to raise money means that the "speech behaviour" of the people offering that raised funds is taking away decision making power from people who are not in a position to offer that "speech behaviour". If we were talking about running a 6 minute mile or passing a calculus test as the speech behaviours instead of spending X amount of dollars then it would be just as obvious who was being denied a significant degree of political voice into this decision making process. All of these things, just as reasonably offered as expression behaviours as spending money. What do we do that does not express ourselves in some way, after all?

The candidates need to be heard. So solve that problem, and get a real clear idea of what they don't actually need to do...particularly if their opponents can't afford to do it. These things have been tackled elsewhere and there are loads of potential solutions already tested out to one degree or another to learn from when creating a new system. The problem, as with many other things, is the ridiculously vague Constitutional language and the opinions of seers translating them through the ages gets in the way of basing policy based upon data and turns it into a quasi-religious revelation based on ambiguous or vague holy texts written in a different reality than the one in which we live by human beings. There is a place in the world for learning from the wisdom of those that precede us. That practice does not involve putting our hands over our ears, closing our eyes and asking ourselves or the Supreme Court what the founding fathers would do.
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby GoRunGetToTheChopper » 28 Feb 2016, 18:16

Of course all the Europeans want Bernie. luckily, America is a capitalistic society that will never turn into the hell that is Europe. Bernie wont come close to winning the Democratic nomination, so this is a non issue.
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Re: Hillary or Bernie?

Postby Rolan A Doobie » 28 Feb 2016, 18:56

GoRunGetToTheChopper wrote:Of course all the Europeans want Bernie. luckily, America is a capitalistic society that will never turn into the hell that is Europe. Bernie wont come close to winning the Democratic nomination, so this is a non issue.


Yeah, it would absolutely horrible if we 'Muricans didn't have the privilege of spending the rest of our lives in debt so we could to go to college or get medical treatment...
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