The Up-and-Coming Campaign Promise

Mari Minear, Writer

   I’ll admit it: I’ve been watching a few political candidates this cycle. I like watching their social media posts from the campaign trail, what they would do for the people they may represent, and even look at how the polls are looking for their races. It’s kind of my guilty pleasure about politics. 

    One of the candidates is John Fetterman, a Democrat running for Pennsylvania senator. Recently, I was looking on his campaign website and noticed one of his goals as senator: banning trading stocks between members of Congress. I think if someone can run with this position, then I can form an opinion on it. 

    My main consensus: politicians trading stocks should have been banned a while ago. Here’s why. 

    For one thing, it creates a conflict of interest. Let’s say you own stock in a healthcare company. You serve on a committee that is currently investigating said company for alleged malpractice, and the results turn out to be grim for the company. Stock for the company will plummet, but no one outside of the Congressional committees knows. What do you decide to do? Sell your stock, so you don’t need to worry about losing money in your account. 

    Ninety-seven lawmakers did something like this story with their own committees, a New York Times investigation found. And the act was not committed by only Democrats or Republicans. It was a bipartisan action, with 48 Democrats and 49 Republicans doing so. (Perhaps the most bipartisan thing done in Congress ever?) 

    Secondly, constituents will lose trust in their officials because of stock trading. Government is lacking public trust, Pew Research Center finds, and stock trading will only make it worse. Would you want your public officials to trade their personal stocks and cite Congressional knowledge as their reason to do so? That, simply, is not a trustworthy action on the politician’s part. 

    Take the 2020 insider trading scandal, for example. In January 2020, prior to COVID spreading across America that March, some Senators were briefed on COVID’s possible transmission. After the meeting, six Senators sold stock in companies they expected to drop and/or bought stock in companies expected to rise. Most of the stocks bought were for healthcare companies. The Senators downplayed the virus’ ability to spread, while knowing of the opposite. 

    Public trust in those senators decreased following the scandal. One of the senators, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, lost her special election bid that November. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina’s approval dropped to 24 percent. If scandals like this continue, government trust would hit an all-time low. 

    We cannot let this unspoken disgrace continue. Politicians are betraying their constituents when trading stocks related to their committees. Politicians need to stand against stock trades from their colleagues to give leeway to trust from their constituents. Stock trades from politicians must be banned. America needs to do better. America needs a transparent, honest government.