21st Century Methods for Democracy

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
A really niche topic, would've preferred to attach it to a broader thread, but alas, etc.

Been watching several panels about Buckley v Valeo, Citizens United v FEC, campaign finance in general, and while I'm unfamiliar with most of the meat here, I certainly won't let that stop me from offering conjectures.

So as I understand it, the ruling of Buckley v Valeo was that campaign donations per capita have a limit, but personal expenditures in the aid of campaigns do not. Please, someone correct me if I am wrong here.

I think the Citizen's United v FEC had more to do with distinguishing the political rights of individuals and of organizations, and that the ruling somehow entailed or enabled the usage of shell companies in order to donate more than the individuals themselves would be able to.

Unsure about what the explicit rulings were on transparency, but the argument against transparency has some merit, in my opinion. Say a celebrity had a large following in a conservative area, but also had strong pro-choice convictions, and didn't want their donations to liberal candidates with pro-choice platforms to be made public, for risk of alienating their fanbase.

Anyway, thats not the point. Just wanted to give a little background information.

My point is about ways to reconcile the arguments for unlimited personal political expenditure, and arguments for equity across all voters.

I've heard some talk about federal programs that would entail a mass distribution of, say, a couple hundred dollars per registered voter, for the voter to donate to whomever they see fit.

And I now wonder about the prospects of a privately funded equivalent of such a program. Under what circumstances might it be viable and tenable for a private party to distribute funds for the express purpose of political donations, rather than that party going through some PAC or shell organization?

And if the issue is trust, i.e. that the private party wouldn't be able to enforce such a particular expenditure of their indirect donations, might a solution be smart contracts? @polystyle you have any experience working with smart contracts?

In non-technical terms, the smart contract may go as follows: funds sent from wallet of indirect donor, received by direct donor, but are earmarked somehow to only be receivable by the set of wallets associated with candidates, thus prefiguring the expenditure by the direct donor.

There could be a bespoke currency for precisely this purpose, or there could be some mechanism in place to allow for a more universal currency to function in this capacity.

Might not even need smart contracts to work, but they would certainly solve some of the trust issues, given a clever design of the system.

As a dialectical synthesis, this would allow those with deep pockets and convictions to exercise their free speech, provided they are able to convince the direct donors to vote according to said convictions.

It could also distribute some of the power of this money, without necessarily coming at the expense of whoever initially expends this money.

Thoughts?
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
So hypothetically, the legislation would be about enabling private parties to distribute funds for the expressed purpose of political donations, as a means of preserving the free speech entailed by unlimited electoral expenditures while also mitigating the inequity that comes as a byproduct of such rights.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
There could be a federally administered blockchain with smart contract functionality to enable this, rather than having to mail out a bunch of paper. Perhaps paper donations may be integrated into this system to account for rural donors or obstinate luddites, but would this contingency be worth the planning and execution, given the voluntary nature of this program?
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
The indirect donor, the one with the deep pockets, would need to feel confident enough in their preferred candidate to trust that the direct donors will see the value in voting for them.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
And the promises embodied in the platforms of the candidates may be expressed through smart contracts as well. Say, if certain donation quotas are met, certain campaign expenditures are automatically triggered. Or perhaps once a certain quota is met, that amount is automatically held in some smart escrow to be automatically doled out later, according to some promise made now.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
One of the glaringly unfortunate byproducts of unlimited personal political expenditure, if I understand it correctly, is that it incentivizes candidates to allocate more and more of their time and effort to appealing to a small but powerful contingency of supporters.

One of the panelists mentioned that U.S. congresspeople average around one hour per day on the phone with large supporters. I could track down the precise quote, but these are top-tier panels.

edit: One of them even had James Buckley.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
I see merit in the argument that there shouldn't be a hard cap on private campaign expenditure, but I do think there can be clever guard rails, or at least opportunities that incentivize distribution.
 

sufi

lala
One of the glaringly unfortunate byproducts of unlimited personal political expenditure, if I understand it correctly, is that it incentivizes candidates to allocate more and more of their time and effort to appealing to a small but powerful contingency of supporters.

One of the panelists mentioned that U.S. congresspeople average around one hour per day on the phone with large supporters. I could track down the precise quote, but these are top-tier panels.

edit: One of them even had James Buckley.
as far as i understand, here in UK there are more restrictions on campaign funding - caps, transparency requirements, conflicts of interest and so on, than in the US, but still we have major issues around influence peddling and constant challenges to the rules and sharp practises

so my feeling is that the tech measures you are proposing wouldn't go deep enough to make much difference - there are fundamental problems with the model
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
and a packet of crisps please, prawn cocktail’s exotic journey

the US healthcare system might be a case study to build on, reform that and you can improve the dignity of millions

methods for democracy? that’s a a vast, unwieldy, devolving/evolving, galaxy of complex systems, master one first
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
as far as i understand, here in UK there are more restrictions on campaign funding - caps, transparency requirements, conflicts of interest and so on, than in the US, but still we have major issues around influence peddling and constant challenges to the rules and sharp practises

so my feeling is that the tech measures you are proposing wouldn't go deep enough to make much difference - there are fundamental problems with the model
I see your point, and I also sense that adding more complexity to the system only makes things more lethargic and sclerotic anyway.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
and a packet of crisps please, prawn cocktail’s exotic journey

the US healthcare system might be a case study to build on, reform that and you can improve the dignity of millions

methods for democracy? that’s a a vast, unwieldy, devolving/evolving, galaxy of complex systems, master one first
True, plenty of history out there that I have yet to be exposed to, even of the system I partake in. I suppose at this point I am focusing on relatively small components that can be tweaked or added that may simplify or reconcile aspects of the systems.

The healthcare system here is yet another beast I've yet to start on, but you're right I'll probably learn a ton from it.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
I do believe that smart contracts can help a lot, as they prevent certain occasions to take advantage of the trust someone else, who may have less of a systemically viable say, places in you.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
And they seem largely viable even to certain moneyed interests, those who would profit form less friction in the system, lowering the cost of trust, etc.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
you just need to find a way to stop it being corrupted by moneyed interests personally i advocate killing
Could largely consist of abstracting some of the the agency of money beyond humans, automating some of its flows and activity.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
If we already think of capital as an artificial intelligence, just wait til smart contracts become omnipresent.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
not sure i follow
The fact that we have needed humans, who tend to not be impartial, to administrate and execute certain contracts, means those humans are granted opportunities to exploit such a heightened position, provided there is little transparency or oversight.

Smart contracts would automate some of this activity, and if the smart contracts are built on a blockchain, the whole transactional history can be publicly available and auditable by anyone.
 
Top