Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ways to rethink money's role in politics
Readers shared lots of ideas about the role of money in politics, and possible ways the system could be changed.
January 27th, 2012
10:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ways to rethink money's role in politics

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

BlackDynamite: "You'll never get money out of politics. Political power is about as pure as Lindsay Lohan's sheets. What's important is the integrity of the voting process. Keeping things like the Florida Presidential election scandal of 2000 from happening, and avoiding computerized voting, which are far easier to compromise."

We asked people to share their thoughts on money in politics, and we got lots of great responses. Thank you all who commented. Just wanted to highlight some of the reaction. Yes, this is an "overheard" post based upon an "overheard" post.

Overheard on CNN.com: 10 takes on money in politics

1. Standardize

Josh: "For the presidential race they should make it a criteria that they need to raise X amount of dollars (like $20 million) to run for president. If they can't raise that much money they probably don't have a chance of winning anyway. That is the only campaign money they can use. If a candidate is caught using funds from other sources they are disqualified from the race. Also, the budget should stay smaller. The candidates need to show that they can spend money efficiently in their campaign, not just reach back into their bottomless pot of gold and bring out more."

2. Keep things the same

R.L. Name: "Citizens United was a great decision. Speech must be free, no matter the source, period. The idea that the government should manipulate what speech people see or hear in order to "improve" elections is based on the idea that the voters are just drooling idiots who do whatever they are told. I reject that. Voters can handle it. They have full access to any info on candidates, in newspapers or the Internet or debates, they want. If they don't go looking for it, that's their fault, not the fault of money. Voters have 100% control over who is elected. Money has no power and elects nobody."

3. Spend the money elsewhere

Dave Des Moines: "I read about how good preschools and mentoring programs for our youth goes a long way in terms of future returns. They say it is easier for a younger person to pick up a second language, like Mandarin Chinese, the earlier the age. In the meantime, places around the world are teaching English to their kids at these early ages. They teach them math and science, as well. We are toward the bottom when it comes to STEM education. We say it is a national security issue for us not to know a few important languages or not know STEM. Then why are we spending so much on super PACs? How many teachers and mentors could have been hired in place of this money? It is a sad state of affairs."

4. Everybody contribute

George: "I think some of the people commenting misunderstand the problem of funding election campaigns through private donations and having unlimited funding. The issue is not that money buys more advertising on TV and therefore gives one candidate an unfair advantage over the other. That is a concern, but the much bigger problem that arises from the funding of election campaigns from private organizations is that it forces politicians to sell themselves to the highest bidder so that if elected they stop doing what is in the best interests of all of the American people but instead do what is in the best interests of the people/groups who funded their campaign. There is serious corruption at the very heart of our democracy and it needs to be stopped. All election campaign funding should be paid for by everyone in America. We should all contribute a small amount and then get to choose which candidate our small contribution goes to (or have it split evenly across the board)."

5. Focus on substance

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV: "We should never limit speech to solve this problem. What we should do it find ways to make campaigns and issues more about the substance of the issues and less about the image or the emotions that go with the issues. If you increase how substance of the issue effects the process then a politician will be influenced less by this money."

6. Fix the debt

Car: "Gee here is a novel idea...instead of individuals or corporations donating to a political campaign – how about giving it to or matching the donation to the national debt!"

7. Free equal time

Scott: "And we wonder why our country is in the plight it is. Money controls everything now, which is why the divide between classes continues to grow. As long as this continues, things will just get worse. Equal FREE Time for all candidates on all major stations/newspapers. Preliminary election removes the pretenders from the contenders. Our process is out of date with current technology and out of step with the country. No more two party system, no more 'He who has the most money wins.' Who knows, we might actaully get a candidate that wants to help the country, rather than a candidate that will have to repay favors..."

8. Take action

R Strimul: "I appreciate the sentiment about keeping money out of politics. But I find it hilarious that people think that it can be effectively regulated, or that the solution is a matter of controlling corporate money. Most people depend heavily on corporations for their information. This website is run by a corporation. Fox News is run by a corporation. Quit being played for a chump. Here is a little exercise for everyone who wants to improve elections. For 30 days before any of the elections you vote in this year, boycott every corporate financed source of information. No TV at all. No radio. No corporate websites. Nothing that has any kind of advertising. Have your family and friends do it too. I dare ya. Corporations spend money on politics for two reasons: it's effective and it has a great payback. You can change behavior when you are willing to do your part to stop the rewards.

9. Tax 501(c)(4)s

David Valentine: "Let's self fund elections. Tax political 501(c)(4) at 40%, and then distribute to candidates. If you run an ad, you pay. Require weekly reports,and tax payments, and no donations within 2 week of election."

10. Limit contributions

jack bowie: "Eliminate Super PAC. Set the maximum contribution at $5,000 for each person. Even if a person belongs to a group, he/she can only contribute $5,000. Equal playing field."

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Economy • Elections • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    The 'citizens United' verdict two years ago was a betrayal of democracy. @ Portland tony put it rather mildly.

    January 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
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    April 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
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