My pantry is where I keep my rolling pendaflex file on public financing of elections.
Our current campaign finance system is fundamentally flawed. As long as we keep a system of privately financed campaigns, our legislators will continue to sell out. Candidates are desperate for money to run their very expensive campaigns.
Public financing of elections is the solution. It seems large majorities of my fellow Americans are also tired of their legislators being owned by the wealthiest of special interests.
There is an alternative system that reduces or eliminates special interest influence and creates a level playing field so qualified candidates without access to wealth can run viable campaigns.
Anyone can get information about this issue from Public Campaign or purchase a video tape from them narrated by Bill Moyers for a pittance.
Although the idea is not yet shouted from the broadcast networks, a recent national survey indicates that more than two-thirds of the public favors comprehensive reform of the campaign finance system. They want full public financing for candidates in both primary and general elections. And their preferences are largely independent of party affiliation.
In fact, majority support for what is called "Clean Money" runs across every demographic group. A recent national survey conducted for Public Campaign by The Mellman Group found this level of support among the following demographic groups:
I believe that voluntary public financing - sometimes called "Clean Money or Clean Elections" should vastly alter the political landscape. It is already law in four states: Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
How does a publicly financed, a clean election, work?
Well - it begins with the prospective candidate getting a specified number of signatures on a Clean Election form along with a donation of say $5.00 from each. The prospective candidate promises neither to accept campaign money from others nor himself. In return the governmental entity grants enough to run a campaign. The candidate will approach lobbyists on a different footing since they have no claim on the candidate.
And remember voters clearly want to replace private money with full public financing of primary and general elections. The actual implementations are not widespread yet. There is not enough talk by the media about Clean Elections; there has not been enough pressure put upon our political parties.
Requiring television and radio stations to give free time to publicly financed elections should be easy. Broadcasters do not own the frequencies over which they broadcast. They are required to operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity. They hold their licenses as a public trust and should provide air time when Clean Elections reach the national level.
Arizona and Main have already had success with Clean Elections as early as 2000 and the system continues to perform as its proponents have predicted - the influence of outside money was reduced; the candidates could spend time on issues rather than on hustling campaign funds; and more people were encouraged to run.
Imagine someone running for a commission that sets your utility rates who has NOT accepted money from the commission.
On the other hand, imagine someone running for a commission NOT running on Clean Money. That person would regard the utility commission as a PRIME source of funds to help finance an election. If elected, whose interests would he serve as he contemplated his next expensive election? Yours or those interests of the utility? Do you want to finance his campaign through the pennies that the state would proffer in your behalf through clean election money or would you rather pay dollars, month after month, on your utility bill? Who do you want to own this person - you or the utility?
At one time prescription medicines were relatively cheap. Physicians made decisions as to what medicines to perscribe based on their medical expertise. Now a patient suggests to the physician what medicine might be necessary and gets outraged if it is not prescribed. Why? When medicines were cheap, pharmaceuticals were confined to materials read by physicians they were not advertised on TV. Now that medicines are advertised on TV, which is enormously expensive, medicines are enormiously expensive. And these companies have lead the pack in their profits.
Too much money from pharmaceutical houses goes to finance campaigns to put the genie back in the bottle. The situation is hopeless without public finance of elections. I could go on and on with example after example but just think, the excess money that you pay for your favorite proprietary medicine is far more than your share of tax dollars to publicly finance elections would be.
What am I going to do?
You can bet that established interests who buy legislators will fight public financed elections hard. There have been court fights. I heard one opponent argue that the taxpayer will be paying for speech that he doesn't agree with. I had to laugh -- what legislator only spends public money on projects that I agree with?
How valuable did you find this information about clean elections?