We need a new rule. But it has to be a fun rule for everyone.
Except for politicians.
Much has been made of the influence of big money on Maine elections. This year’s U.S. Senate race alone attracted more than $200 million in donations and dark money. Most of that cash was wasted because, after the first $10 million or so, hardly anybody paid attention. If somebody wanted to squander $190 million, there are probably more entertaining ways to do it.
But who cares if rich people burn their assets trying to convince us that Susan Collins appeared in porn movies or Sara Gideon is a tool of the North Koreans? That’s all garbage. What would be useful is a warning that somebody is about to hurl garbage at us. Fortunately, such notice is readily available.
This delightful 17th-century Scottish term has fallen into disuse. In its day, it was commonly heard in the streets of nearly every town, issued as an advisory that the occupants of a building were about to empty a chamber pot out the window and into the gutter.
When someone yelled, “Gardyloo,” passersby paid attention. Or paid a nasty price.
With the advent of indoor plumbing, waste disposal became a more private matter, and by the early 20th century, the term was approaching obsolescence. Today, no one would think of emptying the contents of their bowels and bladder into the public ways.
Except for drunks.
And over-funded creeps running for office.
Candidates, their bank accounts bloated with contributions from sources that would make a pig barf, think nothing of slinging feces or spewing vomit upon unsuspecting citizens in the nonsensical belief this activity will win them votes. I doubt they can be restrained from doing so by any means that would pass constitutional muster. Limiting the election-influencing power of corporations, labor unions, super PACs, bundlers, trundlers, outright fraudsters and scum-bearing close genetic links with weasels runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case.
Citizens United said spending money was the same as free speech. You can do all of it you want, and the government can’t stop you. And if you don’t want your name associated with the slop you’re using to befoul the airwaves, there are simple ways to avoid that. If you set up the right kind of corporation, you can’t be forced to admit you dumped that stinking pile of offal in the midst of civil discourse.
As a result, reform-minded types have proposed assorted constitutional amendments to restrict who can donate to campaigns and how much they can give. Polls (and of course we all trust polls) have shown this general concept has wide appeal among Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
“Mainers are sick and tired of the huge-donor, out-of-state money flooding our elections with misleading, ugly noise,” David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is quoted as saying in a press release from American Promise. “We Republicans and all Mainers must stand together for a constitutional amendment so we can have some reasonable limits on this kind of out-of-control spending in our elections. All Mainers deserve a voice and representation in the process.”
Seems simple. But drafting such an amendment has proved to be contentious. Winning a super-majority in Congress remains unlikely. And gaining approval from three-quarters of the states seems possible only to those who’ve smoked a bowl with far more THC in it than they expected.
There’s an easier way. And, as noted above, it’ll be lots more entertaining.
If politicians insist on taking dirty money to fund their unseemly activities, they can at least be required to give us fair warning. Instead of the feeble disclaimer requiring them to admit they “approved this message,” let’s add a real alert.
All broadcast spots would have to begin with the candidate facing the camera while holding a chamber pot. They’d be required to state their name and then say, “The following advertisement contains a heaping helping of excrement.
Sling something at me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.