I have many things I'm planning to do in the New Year -- walk three miles a day, use an eco-friendly laundry detergent, write fewer anonymous letters to Wolf Blitzer -- but I want to declare, right here, that one of my top priorities in 2012 will be to spearhead a drive to remove ALL money from our electoral process, period. Nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- we want to accomplish, from creating jobs to protecting the environment to preventing wars, will happen as long as those who hold the purse strings are the ones who own our Congress.
This destruction of our democracy can only be stopped if the majority of us make it clear that we will ONLY vote for those candidates who sign a pledge to make it their TOP legislative priority to push for a constitutional amendment prohibiting any person or entity from donating ANY money to a candidate's campaign (and that includes a millionaire candidate buying his own election). Plus, they must pledge to back a law banning elected officials from working as lobbyists after they leave office.
Here is the wording to the constitutional amendment we need:
Section 1. All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
Section 2. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has already introduced a "Plan for Washington Reform" that, among other great things, creates a lifetime ban on any member of Congress becoming a lobbyist.
So here is the copy of the pledge we expect those running for office to sign this year:
"I, (name of candidate), promise to make it one of my TOP priorities to introduce and vote for a constitutional amendment that bans all financial contributions to all candidates running for office. I will support legislation that publicly funds all elections and legislation that bans lawmakers from working as lobbyists after they leave office. If I do not do this, I promise not to run for re-election."
One of the first candidates running for Congress to sign the pledge removing money from politics this year is in my hometown Congressional district of Flint, Michigan! His name is Dan Kildee. He not only wants the money out of the electoral process, he wants corporations declared as NOT people. Dan is already refusing to take any corporate PAC money or any money connected to Wall Street or the banks.
And how have the people in Michigan responded to a candidate like this? The early polls show Dan in the lead -- because the voters are sick and tired of the way it's been for so long.
But, until Dan (and others like him) get elected so they can overturn the rule of the 1%, none of this will change. And under the current system -- irony alert -- they can't get elected without money. Wouldn't it be great if this were the last election I'd have to write a sentence like that?
Will you help me show how powerful the public's support is for cleaning up Congress by backing the only person running for Congress from Flint who is on our side? This is not just some symbolic cause. I believe Dan will get elected -- especially if he has our grassroots support.
Please take a minute to click here and donate $10, $25 or more to Dan's campaign. He's pro-peace, pro-choice, and ahead in the polls. He will fight to tax the rich and the corporations like General Electric and Bank of America who pay no taxes at all. I have known this man since he was 18 -- when he first won a seat on the Flint School Board. He comes from the working class and he has been a local public servant his entire life.
I'm asking you to do this also as a personal favor to my hometown which is still suffering from crushing unemployment. More people per capita live in poverty in Flint than any other city (100,000+ population) in America. They have no money to donate to a fighter like Dan. That's why I'm asking you to help in their stead.
Many of you have been writing to ask me what "practical" things you can do to be part of the movement sweeping the country. Well, here's your chance to do something tangible, even if it's just kicking in five bucks. Send Dan Kildee to Congress!
And insist that those running for Congress in YOUR district sign the pledge and commit to removing money from politics. We have to start somewhere -- and I guess Flint, Michigan, is as good a place as any to begin! Please join me in doing so.
P.S. The New York Times this week had a story about how nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires -- and many of them got that way after getting elected to Congress. This is a disgrace. Congress's wealth has gone up 15% in 7 years while the average American's has gone down. Congress is bought and paid for by the 1%. Instead of the rich having just 1% of the influence in Congress, they have 100% of the say. This has to stop now. Let's elect 435 Dan Kildees this coming year!