Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fiendish Filing Fee Follies Fool Faithful Followers

For the second cycle in a row, the Republican Party of Arkansas has raised their filing fees.  I still don't know how much.  Maybe one of you out there knows and will tell the rest of us.   But I have heard the complaints about it and I know that they are higher.

It is reasonable to suppose that some of the increase is a reflection of the increase in brand value.   That is, a Republican nomination gives a candidate a better chance to win state-wide, so the party is able to charge more for candidates to have the privilege of wearing that brand.   That part is reasonable.   Still, there is a point where one can raise prices, but lose revenue in that too high a filing fee will discourage some candidates.

If filing fees keep going up, it is going to be hard for the common person to become a Republican candidate for an office of any size without a corporate sponsor.    Maybe that is part of the point of the higher fees too.  It helps keep out the Tea Party trash.

Another part of it may be a way to end-run the increasing disgust with the party among many members of its base.   How many times have you heard someone say "I don't give money to the party anymore, I give it directly to the candidates."   Well, the candidate now has to turn around and give it to the party, so they get grassroots money either way.  Nor is that the only party expense most candidates face.   They have to buy tickets to party fundraisers, even whole tables worth in some cases.   Maybe the prices changes are simply a response to a grassroots no longer willing to fund the party apparatus directly.

What is particularly galling is that establishment candidates often get help from the party in fundraising, while grassroots candidates rate far less.  Imagine this scenario:  An establishment candidate might get his filing fee back from the party in donations once he wins the primary, while if a grassroots candidate wins the primary it is never seen again.   And all that money spent on tickets to party fundraisers?  After the primary is over, if a grassroots candidate loses, the money his contributors gave can wind up being given to his establishment opponent.   If the grassroots candidate wins, he then has to raise money again to compete in the general.

The bottom line is that if you play their game long enough, the house always wins.  Nobody reading this blog is psychopathic enough to out-scheme the folks who run a major political party.   If you want any chance to win, you have to join their side of things or start your own game.   I am happy with many of the grassroots Republicans who have been elected to some of the smaller offices in this state, I am just loathe to donate money to their campaigns knowing that it will go into the coffers of the political party of Boozman, Griffin, and yes, John Boehner.  

If the party pushes it too far, this is going to become a problem for more and more people.  I think the party is OK with that because it will clear the road for the establishment types.  They will still be able to get contributions from the corporate side which has no trouble giving to the Roves of the world so long as they get cut in on the looting, but the grassroots side will be reluctant to give to even grassroots candidates just as they are now reluctant to give to the party.    This is an unstable situation that can't last.   People need to start thinking outside the box going forward.  I am anti-party myself, and suggest that we move to a much more decentralized model for the reasons outlined here.

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