Monday, April 04, 2011

Simple and Needed Democratic Reforms

Ban on political advertising outside of election time: Spending limits are designed to level the playing field and to lessen corporate influence and in process make campaigns more about issues than money. However, the effectiveness of such measures is undermined if parties are allowed to spend whatever they want outside of election time.

Make it so that political donations are no longer tax deductible: The Conservatives want to eliminate the political subsidy and so force political parties to raise their "own money". As usual, Harper only thinking of what political advantage could be gained and not at all about what is good for the country. Canada should be increasing the public subsidy and reducing the importance of donations -- also publicly subsidized -- by no longer making political contributions tax deductible. There are two reasons for doing so. The first is obvious. Making the political parties more beholden to those with money is a bad idea. Two, the more emphasis placed on fundraising, the less time politicians have to spend dealing with issues and serving the community. The extreme case is what has happened in the US. Bill Clinton lamented that an ever increasing amount of time occupied by fundraising and by the end of second term it occupied most of his time and the time of most senators. That was more than 10 years ago. Things are 100 times worse now. We want our politicians believing that politically it more advantageous for them to spend time representing their ridings than it is giving speeches at serious of $100 dollar a plate fundraising dinners.

Eliminate the distinction between local and national political adverting. This would prevent another in and out scandal from happening.

Mandatory voting: Seniors vote in much greater numbers than young people and so politicians pay them more attention. The lack of attention paid to younger voters leads the youth to pay even less attention to politics and on it goes in a vicious circle. Moreover, anyone who has ever worked on a campaign knows that most of the focus is not spent convincing people to vote this way or that, but rather identifying party supporters and then to pestering them to show up on voting day. Make voting and mandatory and parties would spend more time focusing in on the issues and lot less time tracking down supporters.

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