Tuesday, in a move that surprises no one, House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission to put in place stronger measures to stop foriegn entities from meddling in the U.S. election. Prompted by the revelation that Russians spent nearly $100,000 in ads on social media to promote the candidacy of Donald Trump, Democrats have said that the ads and foreign interference is “a direct assault on federal election law and the integrity of our elections.”
And to an extent, I agree. But here’s the problem: it doesn’t address the issue of the FEC.
The FEC is comprised of six individuals who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The duties of the Commission are listed as :
“…enforces limitations and prohibitions on contributions and expenditures, administers the reporting system for campaign finance disclosure, investigates and prosecutes violations (investigations are typically initiated by complaints from other candidates, parties, watchdog groups, and the public), audits a limited number of campaigns and organizations for compliance, administers the presidential public funding programs for presidential candidates and, until recently, nominating conventions, and defends the statute in challenges to federal election laws and regulations.”
By law, no more than three members can be of the same party, in order to keep it balanced. Or, at least, that is the design.
But the FEC has a long history of issues for both ruling parties, and for third party candidates and parties. For Democrats, the FEC’s refusal (or inability) to institute campaign finance reform and stop what they refer to as “dark money” from flooding into elections has many liberals angry. On the other side, many Republicans call some of the rules the FEC has put in place as infringing on the First Amendment. And both parties have been angered by the repeated deadlocking along party lines over issues they are supposed to resolve. Currently, 14% since 2008 of their decisions never make it past voting due to deadlocking.
But the issues with the FEC that isn’t addressed here is the FEC itself. It is run by two parties who wish to retain power, so they never allow another voice into the mix. Gary Johnson’s suit against the FEC was thrown out of court when the courts ruled that the FEC did not violate his rights as a candidate by banning him the televised debates, since he didn’t make the 15% threshold (which was instituted, by the way, by Democrats and Republicans). The deadlocking, the suppression of third parties, and the rising clamor between the twin ruling parties has its roots in the FEC, since their ability to help govern isn’t working.
That, and no one voted for them, so why they are making decisions like that is anyone’s guess.
It is not just media hype that Republicans and Democrats are increasingly not working together. It’s real; in Congress, in the states, in the Oval Office, and in the FEC. A third voice might break the deadlock and add a new dynamic, but let’s be real: the two parties wouldn’t want that.
So, issues like this remain. That being said (and coming back around to my opening) the meddling of Russia within the election is wrong, is troubling, and should be looked into. I disagree, however, that new regulations are needed. I instead suppose that we do not give as much power to any ruling body, which would make us fear if another government is trying to persuade them. Instead, find ways to keep the power in the hands of the American people at large instead.