Updated: Aug 21, 2019
No time to read? Listen instead!
I've spent the last few days combing through the Democrats' plans for free college, free healthcare, "freedom dividends," among many other plans that promise to give you money if they were to win. Today, something clicked.
It's illegal to buy votes in the United States. There are numerous federal and state level laws that line out the details on various fines associated with offering people money in exchange for their vote.
First we'll look at the federal law on vote buying.
Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and
Whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
I can see the obvious "language" difference in this law, and what liberals (and yes, even some conservatives) do on a daily basis.
My question is if we've seen an obvious workaround for this law, and if that workaround has been generally accepted by the public.
If I'm running for President and part of my campaign pitch is "If you go vote for me, I will give you money afterwards," we can all agree that that is considered "buying votes." Remember, the law states that "Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote.."
Here's where I run into the obvious hypocrisy
If I'm running for President and I say "If you vote for me, I promise to institute a 'new deal' for America,” what does that mean?
Let's say I've detailed out my plan, "Nate's New Deal." That plan includes:
$1,000 direct payment per month
It's easy to assume that "Free College" has a monetary value of at least $10,000 per year. We can make the case that "Free Healthcare" could equal an average of $25,000 per year. "Free food" might only have the value of $3600 per year, and it's pretty obvious what the direct payment is worth. Those all added together equal roughly $50,000. After finishing college, you'd still be getting $40,000 per year. All that needs to happen is for me to get elected.
To restate my campaign pledge in more clear language I'll now say- "If you vote for me, I will give you at least $40,000 per year for the rest of your life."
Do you see the obvious issues?
Let's say that healthcare is a right, along with college. What about Andrew Yang's proposal? It would be difficult to imagine that his supporters are ignoring the fact that if he is elected, they would receive money in monthly payments forever. That being said- if they are motivated by his campaign promise to give them money, what's the difference between that, and buying votes?
What's the point of the law?
Laws are enacted for a reason. Sometimes the reason is valid, and sometimes it's just the government getting involved in places it shouldn't. Ask yourself this question: What is the point of this law?
I would argue that the point of this law is to stop those who have money or influence from using those resources to obtain a position of power that would not have otherwise been obtained. When holding an election, those people are supposed to be elected on their principles, values, or other merits that the candidate holds.
The problem in elections we have now (like so many other problems), leads back to taxation, and redistribution.
Here's my campaign promise stated even more truthfully "If you vote for me, I will take money from someone else, and then give it to you."
Elections are not meant to be a contest of "which person is going to pay me the most money," but that's exactly the meaning they have taken on. Taxation and redistribution leads to a loophole for painfully obvious "vote buying." Listen for five minutes to the first democratic debate for the 2020 election. You will be promised money in exchange for your vote, and for your ability to help obtain other votes from your family and friends.
Republicans are not much different, by the way. Regardless of the current rhetoric, neither party has legitimately offered to slash entitlements or payouts to specific groups. Why not? Because they'll lose votes.
We will not leave the days of "vote buying" until we take on the process eliminating taxation, and redistribution. It's literally money offered in exchange for winning an election.