Sunday, August 23, 2009

Be careful what you wish for.

Blog, rimes with fog a component smog - pollution or obfuscation?

Like most political scientists I have long been a proponent of public financing of political campaigns. Almost 20 years ago I wrote disparagingly about the practice of Arizona legislative candidates parading in from of lobbyists to be video taped and then later evaluated by said lobbyists to determine who would be blessed with their largess. The anointed could count on about 50K and a good shot at election - those not chooses had to look for other work.

Such a system struck me as borderline corrupt and at a minimum influence peddling and sinister. So when Arizona got public financing it was a cause for rejoicing.

Fast forward. As always party nominations are determined by the fringe elements of the parties (the people who religiously turn out for primaries). These happen to be the most liberal in the Democratic Party and the most conservative in the Republican Party. Since Arizona is mostly a Republican state - Democrats can get elected statewide but it is often because Republicans do something stupid - Republican primaries are very important in Arizona politics.

Public financing has meant that any wingnut (right or left) can get funding, run a viable compaign and win. It turns out that those corporate campaign money people of yesteryear were actually moderate compared to the wingnuts who can now use public funding to get elected. Corporate lobbyists may have had interests to peddle but they also had an interest in a well run state (with, for example, good schools).

When you add to the mix term limits.....well that is for another time.

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