All donations should be made public
Honesty is often regarded as a rather underappreciated virtue in politics, with half-truths, clever word play and sting words taking a prominent place in political culture, speech and debate. There will always be a certain distrust of politics, which is often portrayed as a shady and corrupt practice with backroom deals, private funding from ambiguously moral businesses, bribing lobbyists and cryptic laws with questionable motives.
To change these views and reestablish a favorable view of the political system all at once may be impossible and impractical to some, but doing so remains a goal worth aiming for.
The first step may come in the form of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, and reform advocates who recently filed a lawsuit along with a petition at the Federal Election Commission that would require the disclosure of secret campaign contributions by federal contractors to nonprofit groups and trade associations. Republicans and businessmen alike denounced the proposal as a restriction on free speech.
Consider for a moment that this free speech argument has merit and is actually the reason why these groups are opposed. Freedom of speech is the right to speak freely without censorship.
Nowhere does the law prohibit groups from expressing their opinion in the form of donating, it only makes them open to public opinion when they do so.
More sympathy would be given to political groups if not for the scandals and forceful questions about presidential policies of the past century, added with the fact both political parties freely and unapologetically abuse the nonprofit loophole because nonprofit groups and trade associations do not yet have to make their donors public. This is enough to rightly cause concerns among supporters who want to see the proposal move forward.
What real reason is there to oppose this movement if there is nothing to hide, unless it’s feared that a rather charitable donation from certain donors might be misinterpreted by the public?
Furthermore, the function of a government and its officials is to serve the public within its constitutionally-defined limits.
Is it unreasonable to want to see how we are being served by our elected officials, what group or business donations backed their campaigns and to gain an understanding of what motives these groups had with their donations?
If this were to pass, it would open the flood gates for intense scrutiny on every dollar given to political campaigns.
Theoretically, it would give increased insight to why certain laws are pushed, which in turn would increase public interest in politics for the better.
Whether this actually is a political move to benefit Democrats or intimidate Republicans is up for debate, but the core issue does not too seem to hold the flare of typical political party bickering.
The idea is simple and reasonable; it’s fair to say that despite a few oppositions on both sides, it has bipartisan support.
When observing a representative, there’s no harm in seeing if they mean what they say, or that their donations say otherwise.