On Public Funding of Political Parties

I placed the following response to today's topic on CBC Radio One's Cross Country Check-Up:

I tend to agree that there should be no public funding for political parties. Party finances should be entirely by personal donation. This is just simply fair and democratic. Under public funding, some of my tax dollars are ending up in the hands of some political party or another that I cannot support, which is totally undemocratic. This is the same as the bad old days of corporate and union funding of political parties when some of my corporate equity or some of my union dues ended up in the hands of political parties I oppose. It is only democratic that I voluntarily contribute where I personally see appropriate and do so as a private individual.

If a party gets out of touch with the electorate, its finances will decline; a party more in touch with the electorate will receive growing financial support. Certainly a party's finances will strongly predict its placing during a given election but a winning party's success will not be simply the result of its financial capacity. More truly the reverse will be true, the winning party's financial capacity will be the result of its attraction to voters.

There is a role for the public purse in political funding, though. That is as a collection and distribution service only. A fear exists among the voting public that larger donors to specific political parties can have undue policy influence. Compulsory anonymity would preclude this fear. A public agency could receive my personal donation (and any limit as to donation size would be totally unnecessary) and assign it to the political entity I designate without ever identifying me to that entity. The only cost to the public purse would be the operating costs of that agency as no public money would go to any party. Other than actual membership fees, political parties will have no knowledge of the specific sources of their funding but they they most certainly will know if their offerings to the voting public have any real attraction.

Yes, eliminate public subsidy to political parties; keep party financing entirely from personal sources, but make those sources anonymous to receiving parties.

Not mentioned, but quite consequential, I think, anonymous-to-the-recipient personal source political financing would likely be conducive to independent political candidacy, which would be all to the good for our democracy.