April 5, 2013

Why You Lose Elections

I know the SECRET to defeating partisan incumbents. By sharing it with you, I hope to cure…

The Citizens United Disease

We get nasty messages whenever we say anything good about the (CU) Citizens United decision.

This is a by-product of self-serving brainwashing from the political class. Both incumbents and the media have incentives to lie about campaign finance laws in general, and the CU decision in particular. Here’s the truth…

Campaign finance laws…

  • Protect partisan incumbents from challengers.
  • Help the regime media dominate public opinion.

These incentives lead both incumbents and the media to tell big lies about the CU decision…

Lie #1: CU overturned a century of campaign finance law.

False. It only overturned aspects of two decisions from 2003 and 1990.

Lie #2: CU allows corporations to make unregulated campaign contributions.

False. Corporate donations are still regulated. All candidate donations are still regulated. CU does only one narrow thing…

It allows corporations, including DownsizeDC.org, Inc., to spend money advocating for or against candidates, as long as that spending is NOT coordinated with a candidate. All direct contributions to candidates are still regulated.

Now, to fully comprehend why the political class hates this narrow change so much, you must understand…

The Secret to Defeating Incumbents

  • The best way to defeat an incumbent is to get him or her to spend lots of money.
  • But that will only happen if the challenger also has money.

Here’s my favorite example…

George Nethercutt defeated Speaker of the House Tom Foley in 1994. That hadn’t been done in 134 years (or since).

Nethercutt had FAR LESS money than Foley. But he had ENOUGH funding to make Foley start spending his own money. Then, something funny happened…

The more money Foley spent, the more he lost ground!

People noticed and poured more funding into Nethercutt’s challenge. So Foley did the only thing he could. He spent more money too. And the more he spent, the more his poll numbers fell!

Here’s how the logic works…

The incumbent has already peaked. That’s what it means to win office. He can’t go much higher, no matter how much money he spends.

The challenger starts in the basement. She can only go up. But that climb requires dollars.

Simply put…

  • Money matters more to challengers than incumbents.
  • Regulating contributions benefits incumbents by crippling challengers.

So why do incumbents amass large war chests if the extra dollars lack marginal value?

To scare off strong challengers!

So here’s what the challenger faces…

  • The more she can force an incumbent to spend from his war-chest, the more likely that incumbent is to lose.
  • But to force an incumbent to spend, the challenger must start with a competitive amount of money.
  • Raising money is easy for the incumbent because he has access to sell.
  • But raising money is hard for the challenger because she has to start from scratch and her prospects are, initially, poor.

Nearly all start-up businesses face this problem.

So they borrow or raise large amounts from wealthier people. This also used to work in politics. For instance…

A major donor gave Eugene McCarthy $200,000 to start his 1968 presidential campaign ($1.3 million in today’s dollars). McCarthy claimed that this capital allowed him to scare Lyndon Johnson out of his re-election race.

But this kind of challenge is now illegal.

Imagine how much the economy would struggle if was illegal for start-up companies to raise large amounts of capital. So…

The CU decision was a TINY step toward correcting the problem.

It would be better if corporations and wealthy people could donate large amounts to challengers directly. But until we get this natural freedom restored, allowing corporations to do independent expenditures could be the spark that starts a viable challenge to incumbent power.

Meanwhile, ask yourself this…

Is there more or less cronyism since the campaign finance laws were passed?

I think the answer is obvious to any honest observer. Cronyism has grown worse. This is the natural outcome of protecting incumbents from challengers.

Please be clear about this — The campaign finance laws don’t deliver what they promise. They give us the exact opposite.

So how can we solve this problem?


We must fight for what the regime media already has — a fully functioning freedom of the PRESS.

Free speech may not cost money, but running a press does.

The establishment media can already join together in groups to raise unlimited amounts to dominate the public discussion about politics. YOU must have this same right. We’ve pushed this argument before the courts in case after case.


We must also challenge the doctrine of “compelling state interest,” which allows the Courts to throw away your rights just because The State claims it has a compelling reason.

We began this fight with our Danielczyk brief, and now we’re working to continue it with a brief in a case called Shaun McCutcheon v. FEC.

This brief is already underway. But we need a little more money to finish paying the bill.

You now know things about CU and the campaign finance laws that very few Americans understand. But this knowledge is useless if you do nothing with it. If you won’t act, who will?

Please make a generous, tax-deductible investment into Downsize DC Foundation so we can finish paying for the McCutcheon brief.

Jim Babka
Downsize DC Foundation
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