DECEMBER 12, 1956
NEW YORK—I have a letter on campaign financing which, while it is written by a Democrat, would be equally applicable to both parties.
For a long time it has seemed to me that all of our political campaigns need a complete revision as far as financing is concerned. They now are not conducted in a democratic manner.
We know that the most effective campaigning today probably is done by personal contact, just as it always was, but we have other methods of communication and contact through television and radio. It seems to me that the government should require, and pay for through a reduction in taxes, a certain amount of time be given nationally and locally for candidates of all political parties.
Concerning such campaign expenses as material, travel, etc., I have a suggestion from a woman which seems to be very wise.
She would like every citizen to belong to a club and pay into it a dollar a year towards the party of his choice. This not only would obviate all large contributions, which at least require returns in "consideration" by the candidate later on, but would furnish plenty of money to cover all party expenditures.
In addition, this plan has, I think, the great value of making every citizen feel that he is taking part in the fight for his party's candidate. If every voter put a dollar a year into the national campaign fund, 50 cents into the state campaign fund and 25 cents into his county or city fund, there certainly would be enough money on every level.
This would mean, of course, that within the party machinery money would be available to allocate to the different activities and all of us would have a greater sense of participation.
This is worth thinking about, for at present many of our party leaders are harassed by deficits at the end of every campaign, whereas other parties may have a surplus. More time in a campaign should be given to the issues and the choice of candidates than to methods of raising money.
The news from Hungary is ominous. The government has dissolved the workers' councils and little by little the people are being shorn of what meager freedom they have had.
It is hard to understand how a Communist regime can forbid workers' councils when the Communists always act in the name of the workers, just as though the workers decided everything.
It is convenient to make speeches glorifying the rights of the workers. But when these rights are completely ignored after they have been demonstrated to vary in some ways from the Soviet pattern, it seems that the Soviets are proving their utter lack of interest in the rights of human beings.