At APSA, Michael Malbin has a paper titled “A Neo-Madisonian Perspective on Campaign Finance Reform, Institutions, Pluralism, and Small Donors.”
This working paper steps away from the speech-and-corruption debates that have dominated campaign finance conversations. Instead, it offers a proposal that fits well within current constitutional law while being more effective at addressing systemic inequality than alternatives that require a constitutional amendment. Like Madison in The Federalist, the article stresses the importance of looking at proposals from a perspective that seriously weighs their effects on institutional performance. The first major section of the paper develops the Federalists’ argument, and its flaws, while the second explains how current fundraising practices undermine legislative deliberation. The third section argues for an approach that would address current inequalities, correcting the main defect of Madisonian pluralism by bringing more diverse voices into the process while protecting against institutional harm. The approach would use generous small-donor matching funds, or vouchers, but with public funds used only to support within-district contributions.