As matters now stand, the 1984 election will be bought by special interests. But there is still time to prevent it. The solution is simply an extension, federally and in the states, of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.
This procedure, now a well-accepted part of American politics, permits taxpayers a voluntary $1 credit against their federal income tax each year - the accummulated total being dispersed after each presidential election and allocated in proportion to the vote received by each presidential candidate, with a minimum of 5 percent of the national popular vote required to qualify.
The Presidential Election Campaign Fund principle and procedure should be extended to permit a separate, voluntary $5 credit against federal individual income taxes - also to be dispersed according to the presidential vote - to the national political committees of the parties whose candidates have qualified for funding.
Such an extension of the presidential campaign-funding concept would liberate not only presidential candidates but also senatorial and congressional candidates from dependence on contributions from special interests.
Moreover, public campaign funding should be introduced at the state level. This would include:
* A voluntary $1 credit against state individual income tax for a gubernatiorial election campaign fund. The accummulated total would be allocated according to the vote received by each candidate receiving a 5 percent minimum of the total state vote.
* A separate voluntary $5 credit allocated to the state committee of each political party whose gubernatorial nominee qualified for public financing. The funding to party committees would likewise be allocated in proportion to the gubernatorial vote.
These state funds not only would free state candidates from dependence on special interest contributions but would enable political parties to finance senatorial and congressional campaigns without national-committee assistance.
This simple reform at the federal and state levels would bring forth a new breed of serious candidates, men and women who now cannot afford to run for high public office without sacrificing their independence.
So it is indeed possible to transform political campaign financing in America. But if such a reform is to become a reality in the 1984 election, enabling legislation, federally and in the states, must be enacted within the next several months so that the necessary tax-credit mechanism can be incorporated in the 1984 federal and state individual income tax returns.
We can stop special interests from buying elections if citizens provide alternative, adequate, no-strings-attached public campaign funding.