Opinion | Congress: Focus on action, not elections

Congress needs to focus on making change. We need election reform.


Ayrton Breckenridge

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) speaks to a crowd on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021 at Ashley Hinson’s BBQ Bash at Linn County Fairgrounds. Hinson talked about the Iowa practicality she brings to Washington D.C.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

Do you ever feel like election campaign season is year-round? If so, you are not alone.

While campaigns are essential to elections, the campaign season is far too overdone. Election campaigns in the U.S. are in need of some serious restructuring. That should start with two reforms: laws that establish campaign periods, and election finance reform.

With just under a year until the 2022 midterm elections, several candidates across Iowa have already started to campaign. In July, nearly 18 months before the midterm, former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer announced her bid for the Iowa Senate. In September, Sen. Chuck Grassley announced reelection campaign.

Many others have announced their candidacy for the House of Representatives. Current U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson announced her reelection bid in late August. Democrats Liz Mathis and Christina Bohannan have also announced their run for congress.

With several candidates prepped and ready to campaign, it appears we have a long year of TV advertisements, flyers, phone calls and yard signs ahead of us.

But, election campaigns are not like this in most countries.

If you were to hop the U.S. border north to Canada during an election cycle, you would only have to sit through an election ranging from 36-50 days.

Likewise, election campaigns south of us in Mexico are significantly short, lasting only 147 days.

Perhaps the issue of campaign longevity in the U.S. does not seem significant. But, this issue is important because it affects how Congress works on our behalf.

Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have already raised $128 million for the upcoming midterm elections. This sum is more than double than the amount raised at this point during the 2020 election.

While this is a victory for these congressmembers, it’s a loss for the American public.

Incoming lawmakers are instructed to spend upwards of four hours per day raising money. Most members in congress spend more time fundraising than working for their districts or states.

Congress works on behalf of the American people, not campaign donors. There needs to be more oversight on how election campaigns are run.

Laws establishing election periods make campaigns significantly shorter in other countries. These federal laws make campaign season a few months long rather than a few years.

The U.S. should enact laws that keep campaigns short.

If candidates had a shorter window of time to campaign, they would not need to raise such large amounts of money. Rather than spending time fundraising, congress could actually do their job.

Not only should members of Congress not have to spend months fundraising outrageous amounts of money, they should not be able to.

Because of the supreme court ruling in *Citizens United V. Federal Election Committee*, corporations and unions can promote the election of one candidate over another candidate.

However, this means congress members have to spend time raising money with corporations and unions in order to finance their campaigns. For most members in congress, this is a large part of their day.

In October, Congress received an approval rating of just 21 percent. If there were laws restricting congress from acting as telemarketers, that time spent raising campaign funds could be spent working. Congress could actually do their job, and would probably do a better job of it.

There should be a ban on federally elected officials from dialing for dollars. Congress needs to work for us, not spend time asking for donations.

Congress should focus entirely on action. If they do so successfully, congress members should not need to focus on raising outrageous sums of donations for campaigns; the people should vote based on action, not campaigns. That is why we need election reform.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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