The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization’s (AHI) Resident Fellow David Frisk spoke last month to the Utica-Rome (NY) chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) on campaign finance reform. The presentation was part of the state and national LWV’s “consensus study” deliberations designed to help members learn more about the topic and reach a current common position. The LWV has long advocated more effective campaign finance reform.
His talk on January 23 at the Radisson Hotel in Utica focused on three of several goals the LWV is considering in this context: protecting the political process from distortion by large-scale fundraising, encouraging more equitable competition among candidates, and voters’ ability to get enough information in campaigns.
“Despite my own general opposition to regulation of the political process by government,” Dr. Frisk said, “I agree with its advocates that the amount of time candidates, especially officeholders, spend raising money is a problem. It reduces their ability to consider complex issues—including the rights and wrongs of more governmental power—adequately, and to listen more than superficially to average citizens. Furthermore, it seems worthwhile even in our increasingly digital age to find ways in which the cost of television ads can be reduced, and in which candidates could more easily do relatively substantive broadcasts. So there was definitely common ground.”
Frisk, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University and teaches the AHI’s free adult education courses in politics, history, and political philosophy, also stressed the importance of other factors—in addition to fundraising and major donors’ wishes—that strongly influence politicians’ positions.
The invitation was due to recommendations from local LWV members who have recently taken these classes at the AHI. “Many thanks to Carole Torok-Huxtable, Dawn Laguerre, and Tom Loughlin, in addition to the chapter’s Voter Service chair, Karen McBride,” Frisk said. “I really enjoyed the opportunity and the friendly dialogue, and would be glad to do it again.”
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