Obviously I am something rare in this discussion so far- a moderate. I usually describe myself as a "Schwarzenegger Republican", which means very green, with a moderate/libertarian streak on social issues, but erring somewhat conservative on business and foreign policy.
But I MUST say that I agree with the thoughts earlier on this page- corporations are not human beings and should not have the same rights. A corporation can't vote, so why should it be able to contribute to a political candidate or air political advertisements? As conservative as I am regarding business I can't help but weep for the error that the supreme court recently made in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
But I'll take that a step further...
Part of my conservatism is a staunch belief in HUMAN rights, which is expressed in one form in the U.S. Bill of Rights, etc. I categorically reject the argument that forbidding corporations/PACs/unions to contribute to politicians is an infringement upon free speech. All of these entities represent HUMAN BEINGS. For instance, if a corporation wants to support a candidate they are free to send mailing to their shareholders explaining why they should donate to a given candidate, and then those HUMAN BEINGS can donate if they agree. (They should NOT be allowed to send mailings to the general public.) The problem with allowing corporations to give donations is that the vast majority of people cannot be involved in decision making at the corporations, so the sole motivation devolves to the corporate default- profit. For instance, I have no realistic way to take part in the corporations in which I own stock through my various investment funds. Thus decisions are generally made by the few VERY rich who hold the most shares and elect corporate officers. So, essentially, those big shareholders are stealing money out of the pockets of smaller shareholders and using it to promote politicians that the smaller shareholders might well find distasteful and refuse to support otherwise. So in this case- as it usually is- it is the very rich who are the "looters." Mind you- I believe that corporate motivation SHOULD be profit, but it's just not the proper principle upon which to base a government- which is in what corporate support for politicians results.
Obviously, there would have to be serious consequences to corporations trying to circumvent such a law by, for instance, giving every employee a "bonus" on the condition that they donate part of it to a given politician. Something THAT egregious should be considered an infringement upon civil rights and result in public flagellation of the guilty corporate officers and confiscation of all their assets, as well as severe repercussions to the corporation involved.
I would also consider limiting the size of donation that a given person can contribute to a given candidate per year, so that a rich man doesn't end up with "more freedom of speech" than a poor man. (I'm not as committed to this one.) But it needn't be a farcically low sum- ten thousand dollars might work (COL adjusted)- but it would at least keep one uberrich Trump from buying elections. I would still allow lobbying by corporations, as well as other organizations, but not donations. The Sierra club and the UAW can feel free to send mailings to their members, too.
Actually, a second-best solution to limit the influence of corporate and special interests without a total ban on their making donations would be to institute a cap as in the previous paragraph, with corporations limited to the same cap as citizens. There'd have to be a mechanism to prevent the establishment of multiple shell corporations solely as an avenue to funnel funds to politicians. Since I haven't come up with a good idea on that I'd rather just ban corporate donations.
I understand the arguments for publicly-sponsored funding of political campaigns. Obviously, the motivations for it are similar to mine, but I'd rather see how mine work before we try it.
Finally, to combat extremism I would adopt instant-runoff voting. I would not make voting compulsory, but I'm a big proponent of instant-runoff voting (a.k.a. preferential voting) because it generally discourages extremism. I'm not a big fan of our two-party system despite my (very liberal) college polysci professor's fawning admiration of it, and instant-runoff voting would probably mean the end of it. Obviously, I'm especially interested in the opinion of Australians and others who are experienced with this system.
The United States certainly does a lot of things right, but I sincerely believe that these measures would solve A LOT of what is wrong in American politics. Please critique me- honestly, there are some smart people on this forum and I'm smart enough to cut through the leftist and rightist propaganda that some are spewing, and I'm interested in whether or not I'm missing something obvious.