New Kickstarter-way of donating to political candidates: “Take a stand or get nothing”

Unlocking-MoneyFrustrated that a candidate for elected office hasn’t taken a stance on a heated issue yet? Here’s an idea offered by Claiborne Fleming to push a campaign or its rivals into finally going on the record and stating a public position: make donations contingent on it.

That is, voters could pledge to donate money via a Kickstarter-type website that doesn’t deliver any of the funds until and unless the candidate comes out for or against a policy. If the candidate chooses the position opposed by the potential donor, or remains silent by a certain deadline, the donor’s credit card simply wouldn’t get charged anything.

Money talks—but people have to know just how much is at stake. The purpose of the new approach is to make those dollar amounts explicit.

To illustrate, let’s imagine that it’s 2015 and Hillary Clinton still hasn’t come out against the Keystone KXL pipeline. People would sign up on the new website to donate a certain amount toward the advocacy goal, whether $5 or $2,700 (the hard money limit), and provide the requisite information for making a campaign contribution, such as credit card or bank card numbers. The key is that payment would not be finalized, if at all, until she either comes out publicly against KXL or a set date is reached (e.g., two months before the first primary election).

If Clinton comes out against KXL, the pledgees’ credit cards would be charged and their donations sent on their behalf to her campaign. If the deadline passes with no word from Clinton, the money would instead go to a designated rival campaign—such as Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The net effect could mean tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars swinging from one candidate to another. That’s impact.

Idea submitted by: Claiborne Deming