Answer: Members of the League of Women Voters of Honolulu care -- at least, we feel sure they will when they come to the first round of units and find out how fundamental this subject is to healthy and ethical government.
How to finance political campaigns honestly, adequately, and from a broader base -- is surely one of U.S. democracy's biggest unsolved problems as it enters another presidential year. As the nation grows, candidates must spend more and more to reach more and more people; while TV now puts office seekers in every living room, the enormous cost drains party budgets. Given most voters financial apathy, the net result is a qualification for office unspecified in the Constitution:
a candidate must now be rich or have rich friends or run the risk of making himself beholden to big contributors by accepting their big contributions....
To reopen public office, on a legal and sensible basis, to able Americans of modest means requires far-reaching reforms -- more incentives for small givers, public funds to equalize special interest cash, and effective disclosure of just who is paying each office seeker's bills....
While Congress stalls on federal reforms, the States could move ahead by taking over get-out-the-vote drives and making registration easier, by mailing every voter a state-paid summary of candidates' qualifications'(as does Oregon), and granting free time on state run educational TV. There is no good reason why candidates should not be given office space in public buildings and cash subsidies, perhaps contingent on shorter, cost-cutting campaigns. Localities could transport voters to the polls in school buses and pay for poll watchers -- all small expanses that nevertheless dent campaign funds.
Right now, with or without reforms, the one vital step that every citizen can take is to cough up a small campaign contribution in support of the party, principle or candidate that means the most to him.
TIME MAGAZINE ESSAY
January 5, 1968