Basic intellectual confusion is in many ways the norm among campaign finance "reform" advocates, as the latest effort of Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School , and Joe Trippi, the mastermind behind Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign (we first wrote about this a few days ago).
From the AP:
Lessig and Trippi set up a "strike for change" at Change-Congress.org that launched Thursday night, where ordinary people… can sign a pledge refusing to give any money to politicians unless they support legislation to publicly finance House and Senate races.
It’s usually wealthy contributors and well-heeled lobbyists who dole out lavish campaign contributions to politicians and hope the recipients will return the favor by embracing donors’ pet interests. The new idea is to get small givers to withhold their cash until they get their way.
The words "fish," "barrel," and "shooting" come to mind right now.
So, basically, Lessig and Trippi and those who go along with this are going to let candidates know there’s campaign cash available to them if they adopt their preferred public policy. And lots of cash, too – as the AP article notes, the "…group will tally the amount of donors withholding their money, along with the total they have contributed to political campaigns in the past, to show candidates how much cash they’re leaving on the table if they refuse to support a citizens’ financing measure."
I see. Umm, isn’t this exactly the sort of thing the "reformers" are supposed to be opposed to? Interest groups putting cash on the table, promising candidates and elected officials that they’ll get some of it if they vote their way? I would say I’m confused, but obviously but Lessig and Trippi are way ahead of me on that score.