Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Public Campaign Financing

One of my all time favorite blog posts by me is An Open Letter to America which is about the merits of publicly financed campaign. I've always felt that it had really good mix of righteous indignation, passion, common sense, and wasn't too badly written. I bring this up now because as The Nation points out there are currently two bills on The Hill that if passed would make public campaign financing law.

From the Nation:

With the nation's first billion dollar presidential campaign, pay-to-play scandals occurring at breakneck speed (think Jack Abramoff and Norman Hsu), results in elections that are flawed by suppressed votes and machine error (and a War that Stays the Course despite the millions who went to the polls in November 2006 with a demand to end it), the public has had it with politicians who don't listen to them, care about them, or respond to their concerns. This climate of discontent has led to a rethinking among champions of public financing and clean elections about how to channel their efforts into a larger, more holistic pro-democracy movement. The key question for these reformers is this: how do we fashion a movement that taps into voters' frustrations and captures the imagination for a cleaner, more democratic way?

Certainly there is good momentum in this direction. In Congress – where, for example, the entire Alaskan delegation is either under indictment or soon will be and the pressure for constant fundraising is unsustainable – there is a convergence of democratic values and ideals and more pragmatic considerations wrought by fundraising fatigue. ("The result of this nonsense is that almost one-third of a senator's time is spent fundraising," former Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings wrote in a Washington Post op-ed lat year.) There are two excellent bills with impressive co-sponsorship, the Durbin-Specter Fair Elections Now Act (S 1285) and in the House, the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act of 2007 (HR 1614). Both bills would allow candidates who show a qualifying level of support and opt-out of further private contributions to receive public funding. According to Senator Durbin, "Support is increasing for the idea of public financing in fair elections: seventy-four percent of all voters support public financing… 80 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Republicans, and 78 percent of Independents."

I support publicly financed campaigns because ideally they'll allow anyone who has drive and quality ideas to run for office without having to erode their principles in order to get elected. So please take some time today to think of someone that you've met that deserves to be in office, read/skim HR 1614, and then consider bugging your congresscritter about it.

h/t to TMV