As I was listening to OPB's "Think Out Loud" program this morning on PACs and Politics, I heard about the millions of dollars being raised by our gubernatorial candidates for their campaigns. At the same time, our state is millions of dollars short of revenues to meet its fiscal budget and cuts to programs are being made statewide. Wouldn't it be wonderful, I thought, if the money being raised by these candidates could go directly into the state General Fund?
Here's how it could work: Any political party could nominate a candidate for each open position. These candidates could then fundraise as they do now, but all the money they raised could go directly to the General Fund. On election day, the candidate that had raised the most money would be declared the winner. We citizens would literally vote with our dollars donated.
While I daydreamed about the ways this would change the political process, another idea formed in my mind: What if each candidate elected by this process had to poll their constituents prior to each session or meeting of their legislative body. Perhaps a telephone poll could be held and each constituent would vote "Yes" or "No" on each item of the proposed agenda for that meeting. In order for a legislator to introduce legislation or work in any way on an issue he or she would need to receive authorization from half or more of their constituents to address that issue at this meeting. This way constituents would determine the agenda of items they saw as most in need of governmental action at this time.
This would eliminate much of the frustration citizens feel when their elected representatives are dealing with everything but what is on their constituents' minds.
If commercial or non-profit groups want legislative action, they could use their money to advertise and convince the constituents of the need for legislative action on this issue now. Their success would be determined by the results legislators got when they polled their constituents on the agenda items. There would no longer be any need for companies or non-profits to form PACs to support candidates' campaigns, and legislators would no longer be beholden to them for their positions. This would mean that all the amounts raised by candidates for office and going to the General Fund would be coming from individual citizens.