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        Every election season I turn off the TV, and instead rely on Netflix to watch my favorite shows.  Misleading attack ads flood my television screen making it completely impossible for me to relax.  And it’s only gotten worse. The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutcheon v. FEC combined, allow wealthy individuals and mega-corporations to spend exorbitant amounts of money in elections allegedly as a form of “speech.”  
         The Supreme Court effectively allowed plutocrats to spend as much money (oops I mean speech) to influence elected officials as well as our vote.  But last time I checked, we live in a democracy where government is supposed to be by the people, for the people – not by the few, for corporate interests.  The more often money is pumped into our elections influencing our lawmakers, the more the people’s needs and wants – good jobs, better schools, clean environment, and access to affordable healthcare – take a backseat.   For example, 90% of Americans want expanded background checks on guns; however, getting legislation to pass has been near impossible.  Perhaps the corrupting influence of the $3 million the National Rifle Association has donated or spent in elections in the past decade had something to do with it. Big money influence in nearly every policy area has inevitably put the American people’s wants to the side.  It is clear that our democracy is in crisis!
          According to a poll conducted by Bannon Communications in 2012, 90% of Americans believe that corporate money holds excessive influence in politics.  And across political and demographic spectra voters are angry about it.  About 83% of Americans (85% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans, 78% of Independents) want limits on campaign contributions from corporations, as polled by the Associated Press.  In order to start rooting out this corruption, there needs to be a movement to get money out of politics.
         The People’s Pledge is a great tool for the movement to keep “outside money” out of elections.  The People’s Pledge is an agreement between candidates in a particular contest to stop outside spending – spending by groups other than the candidates or parties – which can come from anywhere in the country and can be from secret donors.  Of course to really get big money out of politics long-term, we need to amend the Constitution in order to restore limits on election spending, but the Pledge is a great way to limit secret spending in the meantime.
        Once a candidate proposes the Pledge all candidates must agree to take it in order for it to work.  Then they negotiate rules and make stipulations in order to ensure no one circumvents the Pledge.  Once they agree on these rules, if any ad is aired on television, radio, or appears in print,  the candidate benefiting from the ad has to donate from his/her own campaign account half of the cost of the advertisement to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice. Not only is The Pledge a great tool to keep the movement of getting money out of politics, but it is also a great campaign tool. By proposing this Pledge, the candidates show they are listening to the American people and standing up against big money in politics. The Pledge has already gained significant traction in 2014, as can be seen from the number of pledges proposed and signed in 2014.
        The People’s Pledge worked in 2012 and is continuing to do so in 2014, not only because it combats corruption but it also restores control over messaging to the candidates themselves.  Candidates can make sure they, not outside groups, define the race. Constituents are allowed the opportunity to hear more directly from the candidates and better decide which candidate best addresses their concerns.  Now is the time to tell candidates about the benefits of proposing the People’s Pledge! The more races that propose the People’s Pledge, the closer we will be to cleaner and fairer elections.  So, email candidates, call their campaign offices, and urge them to sit with their opponents to negotiate a pledge to block outside money.  To learn more visit www.peoplespledge2014.org.

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