Of all things to be looking into over the internet (and perhaps I’ve exhausted all of the juvenile ones), I’m looking into how to form a political action committee and starting one with my friends. Yes, seriously. And why not? The age of Obama has proven that the internet is a perfectly viable means of harnessing a grassroots effort. Political activism is currently in vogue right now, my interest in the World of Warcraft is winding down, and I’d like to do something different that is both helpful and meaningful to me.
The good news is that finding information on PACs is relatively easy. The Federal Election Commission has a good FAQ complete with a guide and forms for an interested individual. The bad news is trying to read the guide. I wish I could say that it was a file thing, but it’s more of the fact that it is written by lawyers under the direction to write something “user friendly”. So it meanders through regular people talk and ominious awful legal talk. I had a year of law school before going into library science and this crap gives me flashbacks. However, in cursory reading, it’s not that bad. Sure, it’s a 134 pages of gobbelty gook, but it doesn’t feel like a hot fire poker enema. So, it might be worth sloshing through.
This has also been a (gasp) educational experience. I didn’t know they came in multiple flavors (organization or company based versus nonconnected versus a leadership variety) and that that their spending limits are comparable to individuals (which makes sense when I think that people make their own PACs or donate to other PACs so they can make multiple contributions to a single campaign, thus gaming the system; yay American democracy). The most important position in the PAC is the treasurer since apparently you cannot function without one. In fact, it’s the only position listed and discussed to any extent. Since it’s all about money, it makes sense. Then, oh yes, there is a section that is all about communication. It’s like tips from your grandparents about what you can say or can’t say on a date. If you mention a candidate, the money goes there. If you get money that is earmarked for a candidate, then it goes there (I think). Then there are types of solicitation that resemble downhill slalom skiing. And you have to spend $1,000 before you have to register with the FEC. And then what I read starts to meld together in my head as it gets into filing and filling out the forms for filing and so forth.
From there, it is about what kind of candidates to support. This is a two fold question. The easier of these is whether you are going to support local or federal or both. If it is both, then two bank accounts will need to be maintained. Of course, this begs the question: what sort of platform would this sort of PAC support?
I have a firm faith in my friends that there could be a consensus found for a platform that we would all support. We cover a range of the political spectrum, but I don’t think we are incapable of finding compromise on issues. Obviously, this could be a fatal error to the whole PAC idea, but I have some hope. What I would be looking to support would be pragmatic politicians who could supply sensible solutions to various issues (e.g. energy, education, and other domestic issues) regardless of their political party. This might be the most complicated part of this proposal, but it also might be the most exciting in getting into some good political discussions with friends.
Now, as a nonconnected PAC, you can solict the general public for funds. In looking at the Obama campaign, my take on it would be utilizing PayPal and CafePress. I’d have to investigate PayPal more, but it is an excellent means for collecting money and moving it to actual bank accounts (especially in combination with CafePress). Why CafePress? Merchandising. Bumper stickers, bags, hats, t-shirts, and everything in between. It would raise money for the PAC and it gives people some unique swag. (Ask about our $100 bumper sticker!) And it is harnessing the power of the internet to boot.
This might be the dawn of a new age of politics. Or something like that.