Large corporations and the wealthy have purchased our government. We must publicly finance our elections and make Election Day federal holiday.
A 2014 study from Princeton University found that, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Corporate special interest groups have spent over forty years systematically gaining as much control of government as possible with resounding success. Most members of Congress today spend a majority of their time raising money for their next election.
The United States judiciary has similarly eroded electoral protections from corporate expenditures originally put in place by President Theodore Roosevelt’s Tillman Act of 1907. There have been a series of court cases that have culminated with 2010’s Citizens United decision that corporations, recognized as people, have the legal right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political expenditures … anonymously.
As a result, many in state and federal politics are reliant on the independent expenditures of large corporations. Without those expenditures, even more of a candidate’s time would be spent raising funds to purchase equivalent exposure. The only way to keep those expenditures off the campaign’s books is to keep applicable special interests pleased with your work in Congress, regardless if it’s for the benefit of the American people.
If money is speech, then every eligible American deserves a voice in their elections.
While it will be difficult to undo the mistakes of recent decades, there is something we can do. We can give every voting age American a monetary stake in our election and let them choose who to support. Whether it would be $20.00 or $50.00, every person eligible to vote should be given the ability to financially support the candidates of their choice through an elections dividend.
Publicly financing elections would allow candidates and incumbents alike to spend significantly less time raising funds for their upcoming election. Instead, they can be focused on the needs of the people they represent. Involvement in the electoral process would almost certainly be rejuvenated. Rather than one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world, we can have one of the best.
This will help us regain a government focused on the needs of working people.