Saturday, February 20, 2010

Internship With The Democratic Farmer Labor Party Introduction

This blog taken on many forms- political commentary soap box, travelogue, reflections, and photo gallery. Now it is going to chronicle my academic internship with the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) and more specifically Al Franken for Senate and the Midwest Values PAC. I am receiving academic credit for working at the DFL Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays each week. I will be aiding the Finance staff in accounting and fundraising duties, while also participating in the Political Affairs department to plan events, write briefs for staffers, and maintain political connections. This internship will acquaint me with the actual business of politics, nothing too glamourous, yet it is the essential business of American politics. This blog will serve as an academic reflection on the practical business of political parties and a chronicle of my experience. It should be noted however that I cannot share every detail. My blog is not to be used as a representation of campaign practice, information, or policy. Despite the fact that only a few people follow the blog (I Thank You All) I do not want anything to be leaked to the press. So I apologize if you were expecting a revealing expose... this blog might get extremely boring or really captivating if you dig campaign finance or political affairs.

This internship is truly serendipitous not for the obvious professional reason of networking before I graduate in May, but in the aftermath of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court; to practically comprehend the business of campaign finance will be vital and illuminating. For those who are unaware, the Citizens United decision trampled on past precedents and will allow corporations to contribute unlimited funds to political campaigns. The decision is a travesty for the exact reason Justice John Paul Stevens mentioned in his dissent; the American people have lost the impact of their free speech through campaign contributions that will never match the contributions of corporations. If money equals speech, thus it is true through the Citizens United decision that corporations, wishing to influence political discourse, will be louder than the American people. Even though a few persons may cite that Democrats and Republicans are the beneficiaries of corporate donations and both liberal and conservative PACs play in the same game, it cannot be denied that campaign finance reform has been a major priority for American progressives and their conservative allies. Most notably is the unlikely pairing of John McCain (R-Arizona) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin). Their legislation, the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act or McCain/Feingold Act was passed in 2002. It set the contribution limits utilized in contemporary politics and set to create a sense of fairness to how campaigns were funded and from whom. Obama For America and Howard Dean's campaign for President in 2004 utilized the internet to appeal for small donations from ordinary citizens in conjunction with the usual practice of bulk donations from PACs and activists. Republican candidate for President and libertarian icon, Ron Paul also executed a similar web strategy and raised a record amount.

Campaign finance reform has a bipartisan history. It is vital that Citizens United be challenged both through legislation, judiciary, and candidate practice. More reflections on this subject are on the way, once I have completed more reading. For a review of the Citizens United case go to

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