White House Petition: Make Politicians Wear Donors' Corporate Logos Like Nascar Drivers

Owen Poindexter
A White House petition calls for all politicians to wear corporate logos like Nascar drivers with the size of the logo being proportionate to the size of the donation.

A petition on the White House citizen action site We the People asks that the government "Require Congressmen & Senators to wear logos of their financial backers on their clothing, much like NASCAR drivers do." The petition author, "J.S." from St. Louis, MO, is climbing toward the 100,000 signature threshold at which it will require a White House review-- at the time of writing, it's at 78,830. J.S. argues that,
Since most politicians' campaigns are largely funded by wealthy companies and individuals, it would give voters a better sense of who the candidate they are voting for is actually representing if the company's logo, or individual's name, was prominently displayed upon the candidate's clothing at all public appearances and campaign events. Once elected, the candidate would be required to continue to wear those "sponsor's" names during all official duties and visits to constituents. The size of a logo or name would vary with the size of a donation. For example, a $1 million dollar contribution would warrant a patch of about 4" by 8" on the chest, while a free meal from a lobbyist would be represented by a quarter-sized button. Individual donations under $1000 are exempt.
So, that's obviously not happening, but the petition still deserves a signature. Here's why: campaign finance is the most urgent issue in American politics right now. Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard professor who has devoted his career to taking on this issue, uses a metaphor of an alcoholic: an alcoholic might have problems with his family, holding down a job, managing finances, and those problems might ultimately be bigger than the issue of alcoholism, but to deal with those other issues, he first has to get his drinking problem under control. Same with Congress: the country has to deal with climate change, the deficit, a bad and getting worse farm policy, and, well pick your issue. It is possible for issues to get circumstantial opportunities, such as immigration reform taking center stage after Mitt Romney losing the Latino vote by 50 points, but on balance, the trend of Congress is toward inaction, and their action tends to be toward rewarding the corporations that help them out.
There's a lot to talk about here, much more than fits inside a blog post, but I urge you to check out some of these resources:
" Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress And A Plan To Stop It," by Lawrence Lessig. Lessig isn't the only person making this case, but he is probably the best place to start. The video above is a talk by Lessig (worth it for the power point alone).
Also check out MapLight and Open Secrets, two nonprofits doing excellent work to publicize the improper dependencies brought on by our campaign finance system. (Full disclosure: I used to work for MapLight.)

If you want a little more fire, try Dylan Ratigan, who famously went berserk on his show on MSNBC a few years ago over banking and campaign finance. It gets more interesting as it goes on too: