I really enjoy watching political documentaries. I recently watched, The Best Government Money Can Buy. This documentary does a great job showing the considerable influence of lobbyists over the development and implementation of policy. It also clearly demonstrates some of the constitutional and practical barriers to various proposals designed to limit the power of special influence.
In actuality, this documentary, no-doubt like many similar pieces of literature and video designed to expose the influence of special interests, actually offers little in the way of a solution. After watching this movie, a person could become depressed and conclude that nothing can be done. The courts have made it clear that political contributions should be treated as free speech and providing them will always be the constitutional right of the donor. So, while it is important to bring transparency and openness to these contributions, there are important boundaries that government should not cross in limiting who can give to a political campaign and who can not. This frustrates many who see the problem but are unable to provide a solution.
I believe there are two solutions to reducing the influence of lobbyists and big money in politics while still complying with the important constitutional free speech protections.
The first method is to elect citizens legislators who simply do not accept contributions from groups that have lobbyists. This is tough, because, while there are legislators who courageously refuse the hundreds of dollars of personal gifts from lobbyists, I have never encountered another legislator who refuses the thousands of dollars of political contributions from the groups that have lobbyists. This solution may not seem so practical but I do believe that in the future more and more candidates for office will take the pledge to refuse these contributions. As long as I have been an elected official, it has been my goal to set the example of how this can actually be done.
I believe that the ultimate way to limit the influence of special interests is the all-too-often not talked about solution of limiting the size of government. If government had not intruded into every aspect of life then the ability of the powerful, rich, special interests groups to influence power would be limited. Put simply, the reason so many invest so much into government is because they seek to leverage the power of the government to work for their interests.
I find it curious that the same groups who decry the power of the wealthy and their influence over politics oftentimes suggest that the solution to the problem is to expand the size and scope of government. Expanding the size of government additionally empowers those who have the wealth to buy influence with the politicians that control the government.
Ultimately, the way to empower the average individual is to reduce the power of government over his life. This puts the individual back in charge of his own destiny and takes away the ability of others to control him.
State Representative Jason Murphey
State Capitol Building – Room #437
2300 North Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
1(405) 557-7350 (Office)
1(405) 315-5064 (Cell)