Simply stated, voluntary public funding means that the federal government provides all candidates who qualify for federal office--president, vice-president, senate and house--with adequate funds to run a credible campaign for election. These funds will come out of the federal budget whether from the general fund or from revenue raised specifically to support public funding. Qualified candidates will no longer have to rely on private contributions from big donors to run a successful campaign. Public funding will truly restore the integrity and vitality of our democracy by eliminating the profound influence of wealthy special interests on our national priorities. What's more, because those in office won't have to spend valuable time raising money for their next election, our leaders will spend more time working for us.
Public Funding: How important is it?
Very important. Perhaps the most important issue of all for the entire progressive movement. According to David Sirota, it is one of the two most urgent issues of the day.
*Issue 1: First and foremost, we've got to start focusing on politics in our backyard - not just national politics. We all get this; so without more to do, here is your link to the good Dr. Dean's Democracy bonds.
*Issue 2: The second suggestion Sirota puts forward is a demand that progressives put public financing of elections at the center of our movement - not just leave it as a peripheral issue.
I've written a lot about this before (me,too) and about how it is a travesty that progressives and the Democratic Party still refused to make public financing proposals within their midst a national theme , even in the wake of the Abramoff/Delay/Cunningham scandals where with a bit of work it could be made to resonate even more powerfully with the public than normal.
Oh sure, Big Money interests will deride public financing of elections as "welfare for politicians." But the simple truth is that we get what we pay for. Elections are going to be financed by someone. If we allow elections to continue to be financed by Big Money, we will always have a government that represents Big Money. If we are willing to pay for our election system, we will get far closer to getting a government that represents us. And if you are worried about the cost of a public financing system you need look no further than Duke Cunningham and the over-the-top earmarking abuses to know that taxpayers are already paying a far greater price under the current system of legalized bribery.
You can tell just how important public financing of elections really is by the opposition to it. As just one example, in Portland, Big Money interests are pouring their cash into a campaign to repeal that city's public financing system. These interests know that if a system exists to free political leaders from the grips of corporate campaign cash, government policy may be a whole lot different. That is, a whole lot more representative of ordinary citizens' interests.
As I said, for the other suggestions I have for taking it back, go check out the book. But remember the bottom line: we still have a chance to take back our government, as long as we have the guts to start fighting the real fight that we all know is at the center of American politics, but that too many in the Establishment want to pretend is not important: namely, the conflict between those who want to let Big Money interests continue to run roughshod over our country, and those of us who think America deserves better.
To be sure, there are always going to be well-funded, corporate-sponsored voices telling us we shouldn't really be angry that our political leaders are selling off our democracy, that we should just tone it down, that we should back off, and that the political elite really supports everything that we are pushing for, when in fact they clearly do not. That's exactly what the Establishment wants - us to retreat, stand down, and fool ourselves into thinking everything is O.K. But that's exactly what we shouldn't do. We must instead refuse to be intimidated, refuse to relent, refuse to swallow the poll-tested fictions. We must, in short, fight back.
The fact is that the lobbying reform bill that cleared the Senate will not affect the behavior of lobbyists and politicians. As a result, it will not convince Americans that Congress is serious about reform. If the Senate had hoped to change public attitudes and suspicions about the way the world within the Beltway works, they have fallen far, far short.
Join Americans for Campaign Reform (ACR) to support publicly financed federal elections.
As citizens we can complain about the corrosive influence of our election finance system, or we can do something about it. With your help, we can mobilize citizens across the country and put pressure on Congress to enact real reform.
ACR Honorary Chairs,
*Bill Bradley, Former Senator (D), New Jersey
*Bob Kerrey, Former Senator (D), Nebraska
*Warren Rudman, Former Senator (R), New Hampshire
*Alan Simpson, Former Senator ( R ), Wyoming
If we really are mad as hell and don't intend to take it any more, lets all join this issue and take our country back. Sign up and donate to Americans for Campaign Reform today. We need to make our key boards heard loud and clear at the Democratic Party and at every progressive movement and organization out there. If we don't hurry, we might be too late.