Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Reform That Makes All Other Reforms Possible

Public Funding of Campaigns

I confess, I care about everything: climate change, a living wage, universal health care, endangered species, inequality in incomes of the rich and poor – I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Several years ago, I examined my pattern of throwing myself into one cause or another until there was a successful resolution or I became too exhausted to continue, whichever occurred first.

I came to the conclusion that virtually everything I cared about involved a decision made by an elected person, and that if I wanted to change the decisions, the people who are getting elected, the “decisionmakers,” need to be changed.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the people who successfully run for office gather up a lot of money in order to finance their campaigns. And I knew that not that many people contribute to campaigns; therefore, only a few really wealthy people fund candidates. And candidates feel beholden to their donors so they can raise enough money to run again. That’s how they vote.

If you’re interested in who gives and who gets with the current system of funding campaigns, go to OpenSecrets.org for federal offices and FollowTheMoney.org for statewide offices.

I came to the logical conclusion that another system of funding of candidates is needed. From there, it wasn’t much of a leap to decide that public funding of campaigns would be the best solution.

I’m in good company, because Bill Moyers has made public funding of campaigns his high priority project. And he and I are not alone; there is a statewide effort in all but about seven states to create statewide public funding of candidates. Check it out at www.PublicCampaign.org.

I’ve been working with www.Caclean.org since 2003. I still throw myself into other causes, but in my heart of hearts, I know that the core reform we need in this country is public funding of all candidates from the local to the federal level.

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