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Vote for campaign finance reform

A letter in this week’s SUN prompts us, in a roundabout way, to again consider one of the key elements in both the upcoming general election and the revitalization of our democratic process.

The letter deals with illegal immigration and poses one of the oft-heard solutions to the problem: a fence.

We believe there is another solution to the problem of illegal immigration — and the fact little has been done to push that solution provides insight into one of our biggest political problems: one we must solve before ordinary citizens lose control our political destiny.

A major part of the solution to illegal immigration involves removal of incentive. Most illegal immigrants, in particular those entering the country on our southern border, come here to work. They do not enter the U.S. to lolligag on beaches. Most do not enter the U.S. to indulge the nightlife. They come here to make money — more than they can make in their homelands.

The solution: penalize those who knowingly hire undocumented workers. True, there are laws on the books that impose penalties, but they are not harsh enough to create a sea change in American business and industry. How about a federal law, strictly policed and enforced, that imposes a minimum 20-year jail sentence on anyone, business owner or private individual, convicted of the offense? If it is a corporation, the CEO goes to prison.

Any bets on what the job market would be for undocumented workers if this were the case?

Any bet on whether the flow of illegal immigrants would diminish?

Why hasn’t something like this taken place?

To find the answer, follow the money.

This brings us to a consideration of our political system as it relates to elections and, in particular, to the financing of campaigns.

Simply put: Which legislator is going to enact law that would put a major campaign contributor behind bars or cause that contributor to spend more in wages to conduct business?

Now, consider the upcoming general election and races for national office.

We believe the most important issue in upcoming senatorial and congressional races is campaign finance. This issue has no partisan color; Democrats and Republicans alike are guilty of feeding at an ever-deeper trough; there are few exceptions to the rule of accepting significant contributions in return for legislative consideration. Contributors and their lobbyists have a death grip on our political process and the first questions to ask any candidate are: “How much have you taken and from whom?,” and, “How do you intend to remedy the situation?”

If there is no honest answer to the first question, the candidate should not represent us. If there is no radical and workable response to the second question, the candidate should not get our vote.

The best place to start is with the House of Representatives — that arm of the Legislature supposedly most responsive to the desires of the people. A U.S. Representative must have an ear to the ground. What candidates should hear is that we want the flow of private money to campaigns to cease and a publicly-funded and rigidly controlled campaign finance system to be put in place.

When the Senate, with its longer terms, fails to respond, we need to boot the reluctant members out when they come up for reelection, or storm the Senate and get rid of the lot when they fail to act to complete reform.

If we do not reform campaign finance, our democracy will cease to exist; corporations and large contributors will totally dominate the process. Don’t vote Republican or Democrat this November. Vote for candidates who advocate meaningful and radical reform.

Karl Isberg