Voting rates have steadily declined. Cynicism about politics and government has increased. The number of uncontested and non-competitive elections has grown. Only candidates with wealthy donors can take a shot at getting elected. Candidates who refuse to sell their souls can not run credible campaigns. The desire of the rich financiers is what matters. Joe Nobody is ignored. The laws and policies do not reflect the will of the majority of the people. Of course this is not a fiction. This is the greatest country on earth: this is the United States of America. Ã¿
Because of the influence of money in politics, more than 100 million Americans don’t vote. They feel their vote doesn’t matter. In fact, they believe democracy does not matter. We are living in a moneycracy not a democracy. It is shameful.Ã¿
Candidates spend more time attending fundraising events than attending town hall meetings. Raising money has become more important than talking about issues with average Americans. How much money you are able to raise matters more than how many issues you are willing to tackle. I don’t hate the fact that our politicians get money from private donors. I despise the fact that once elected they have to pay back their contributors with favors. I don’t hate the fact that our politicians sell their souls. I despise the fact that they sell our democracy.Ã¿
It is time to restore honesty, fairness and accountability to our political systems. Reforming our campaign finance system is the only solution to reach our ultimate goal: getting corruption out of politics and people back in. Ã¿
You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to realize that by not reforming our campaign finance system, we are leading our democracy into flames. What do you call a system in which ideas are not heard and citizens don’t vote? Not democracy, I hope. Ã¿
The time for reform is now. It is time to opt for the Clean Money elections system. Clean Money consists of getting rid of private money in elections by giving candidates the full amount of money that can be legally spent in a campaign, provided that the candidates voluntarily agree they would not accept private donations. The states of Maine, Massachusetts and Arizona have passed Clean Money legislation thanks to the fact that voters understood that reforms were necessary. Talk about a bunch of smart folks. What is America waiting for? Don’t ask me.
Unless we opt for Clean Money elections, elected officials will only take decisions that are best for their wealthy donors and not always best for citizens. Clean Money elections must become mandatory. Both Arizona and Maine have had impressive results. In Arizona, the governor, the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and 45 percent of state representatives ran and won without taking any special interest money under the Clean Elections banner. Competition for statewide office there has increased 64 percent in 4 years. In Maine, most of those who are serving in the House and Senate state government this year were elected without taking any campaign money from corporate special interests. Only 15 percent of legislative races were uncontested in 2002.
Not everybody will qualify for Clean Elections Funding. Candidates will have to get thousands of signatures from registered voters. Candidates will also have to collect a certain number of qualifying contributions between $5 and $100 from registered voters to be eligible for Clean Election funds. As a result, no one would come out of nowhere and pretend that since he has enough money, he has enough credentials to speak for the people.
Thanks to the Clean Elections system, more great candidates can run for public office. Clean Elections makes it easier for average citizens to run. Candidates would be able to listen to voters instead of donors.
The Clean Elections law limits the total amount of public campaign financing available to one tenth of one percent of the state budget. That is less than $4 per taxpayer per year: a small price for our democracy.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that we are equal. Unless we opt for Clean Elections, people will never influence laws and policies equally.
Young people and especially college students need to rise against injustice and disenfranchisement. We are next in line and unless we take ourselves seriously, no one will. It is time to join the Democracy Matters Club at AU, a club that seeks to educate young people about the possibility of clean and fair elections in America. Unless young people take themselves seriously, no one will take environmentalists, women, civil right advocates, seniors and students seriously. In fact, no one will take our dear America seriously. Is campaign finance reform a necessary evil? How dare you ask me this question?
As Bill Stern once said, “our elections are free, but it’s in the results where eventually we pay.”
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed ....