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Campaign reform is a must

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

According to Americans for Campaign Reform, less than one percent of Americans — voters — fund campaigns, and more money is raised in Washington, D.C. than in 32 states combined. Private contributions distort budgetary priorities and help sustain a multi-billion-dollar system of special tax breaks and government spending programs that benefit a few while costing the taxpayers at large. So long as special interest contributors continue to enjoy outsized influence in Washington, politicians will be unable to enact wholesale deficit reduction in the public interest.

This may not be popular with my media brethren, but until we eliminate political advertising from the process, thus removing the need to raise massive amounts of money, we will not be able to rein in the political influence that comes from special interest campaign contributions. And we will never get candidates to speak candidly about the issues.

Removing the campaign dollars that get funneled into television, newspaper and Internet advertising is one of the key influencers that must come to a stop.

What news organizations should do is provide forums, debates and interviews for all the candidates to communicate equally across the board. Advertising can then be sold directly from the news medium to support such featured events.

This way, we level the playing field for all candidates. The electorate would be forced to watch, read, and listen to the candidates without the bombardment of attack ads. By removing the special interest influence, elected officials can tackle the jobs we sent them to do without the conflict of interest the current system forces on those we elect.

Campaign reform is a must. Otherwise, we’ll continue to allow these elections to be bought by the highest bidder, and our lives will be spent in the interest of special interests. The special interest groups currently with the greatest pull are identified in the following categories agriculture, energy, defense, labor and healthcare and they include programs and policies that are favored by both parties. Without serious campaign reform does it really matter who we put into office?

Real change can’t come about until the top or the bottom gets serious about addressing these needed reforms.

Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He can be reached at dan@denpubs.com.

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