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$16k to sell out? Don't these people raise millions?

Big donors are a high return-on-time for busy politicians. I donated the max (2*$2700) to a few candidates during the previous midterm elections, and was (naively) surprised to be invited to have brief 1:1 meetings with each of them. Money speaks depressingly loudly in politics. Corporations have to go through PACs, but many have their own (Intuit has their "21st Century Leadership Fund" PAC, which you can view here:


Not all candidates accept PAC funds, but enough do.

It's disheartening.

> Money speaks depressingly loudly in politics.

I don't know what's disheartening about it. Here in D.C., Democrats are in an ideological war with Republicans. Money is necessary to fuel the war machine: https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015.... Of course they want to get larger donors more involved.

The problem is exactly what you describe, the "war machine." Elections are in the public interest and should be solely publicly funded. Collect taxes for it, distribute it directly to candidates evenly, via some set model. You can look to Canada's system as a basis, although we do still allow some limited private contributions (which I disapprove of, but ~20% of total funding) [1].

That's all they should be allowed to spend. Then they use that money to make their case to the people on merit. No PACs, no contributions, no lobbyists, and equal access to airtime. This eliminates pay-to-play or at least criminalizes it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_political_financing_in...

The US is fundamentally more adversarial than other developed countries. Our political system reflects that. The Canadian way is one way to do it, but I don’t see why our way is fundamentally wrong.

Also this focus on the “merits” is misguided. The US is too big and diverse for votes to correspond very well to actual policies. By the time you get all the stakeholders on board with something the final result won’t appear anything like the original proposal. So we place a much higher emphasis on people, personality, and party than policy.

I’ll give you a concrete example of this: immigration. Canada is much less divided on immigration than the US. Here, you have one side calling immigrants criminals, and the other side calling for open accommodation of hundreds of thousands of low-skill immigrants illegally crossing the border each year. By contrast, Canada’s right is less vitriolic, but it’s left is also far less idealistic. Even Trudeau generally seems to support Canada’s point-based immigration system, which puts a heavy emphasis on English skills and education. That system would be m demonized as regressive and racist were Republicans to propose it here.

So what good does it do to vote for policy here in the US? You think anyone will hash out an immigration policy that makes both sides happy? No. So instead we raise money to go to war and try to bury the other side.

Nothing about my proposed model is eliminates the adversarial nature of politics, or specifies whether people should vote along "merit" or on people/personality/party axis.

What it does is eliminate the ability of private individuals and companies to purchase time with a candidate. If you allow that, the candidate then will do what you want so they will get money for the next election cycle. It's just bribery with extra steps.

If they know they're going to get money for the next election regardless, no more or less than their opponent, they can focus on things that will improve the lives of Americans (their only donors now) and not private entities.

To your point, Canadians don't have to deal with much illegal immigration (except 18,000 [0.05% of the Canadian population] annually that cross into Canada from the US to escape the Trump administration with smugglers paid $4000USD+ to bring people up North. Many lose limbs and fingers and toes in the winter [1, 2] -- 1 in every 1000 Canadians is now an illegal immigrant who fled America). That's not really relevant to campaign finance, though, it's just horrifying.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/24/canada-vermo...

[2] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-asylum-seek...

Its disheartening in the same way that many other oligarchic trends in the US are: it creates an easy pathway for those with money to ensure that they retain an (unfair) advantage, even when it comes at the cost of something that would save millions of hours of aggragate work and unnecessary expense.

If the marginal cost is zero of raising, raise all the amounts

Not really, no! Most national elections sure, but I think most congressional races aren't nearly as expensive.

As of a few years ago, the average cost for a winning campaign for the House of Representatives was about $1.5M. The average cost for a winning Senate campaign was a bit over $10M.

Wow, so this means someone could theoretically buy out the House for <$1b?

Sure, if you think it's that easy. Problem is that there are lots and lots of examples of people spending ridiculous amounts of money in politics trying to sway an election, and losing anyway.

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