It’s time we the people minimize money and corruption in our politics and take control of the election process as well as oversight of how we are governed
On Tuesday (two days ago) 67% of the voters in Tallahassee, Florida, passed a referendum to amend the Tallahassee charter to limit the influence of money in local politics and pass strict new ethics rules. This effort was undertaken by an alliance of tea party groups and liberal organizations, including the local chapters of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.
“You’ve got money-in-politics reform, for the most part, stuck for a long time, and what if you bring the issue to the voters and you do it in a different way…this [Tallahassee referendum] is a real bright spot in a field that hasn’t many of them in the last two decades.”
Silver explained the plan as follows:
1. Campaign finance reform and ethics reforms ought to be packaged together.
2. Reform efforts must be bipartisan with “very prominent left-right coalitions.
3. Reforms should be aimed against corruption, rather than in favor of preserving democracy or enacting campaign finance reform.
As outlined in the referendum, the new ethics rules will limit campaign contributions to city candidates to $250 per donor, provide each voter with a tax rebate of up to $25 for campaign contributions, create an ethics board and require the enactment of an ethics code that includes a conflict-of-interest policy.
Following the success in Tallahassee, Florida, plans are in the works for expanding these efforts and the pursuit similar referendums in other cities and states, with several cities scheduled for 2015 and 2016, and two statewide ballot initiatives in 2016.
“They said money is free speech. Since when is money free speech? Money is money…Under the current system, the average citizen does not have the same voice as a big contributor. What does an inundation of attack ads add to the conversation?”
There is no doubt that we have too much money in politics and that the process is highly influenced and corrupted by it, to the great benefit of the few at the top and detriment and expense of the many below. It is possible to limit the corrupting influence of money in politics by following the example of this great bipartisan effort (who would have thought this cooperation was possible, considering the state of our legislator branch in DC and the lack of cooperation with the executive branch as well as across the aisle?)
It is estimated that the cost of the 2014 mid-term elections will exceed $3.7 billion. One has to wonder what all that money bought and what resulting policies and legislation, or lack thereof, was purchased at our expense. We must get control of our country and destiny, now and into the future, and the only way to do that is to minimize and control the corrupting influence of big and undisclosed money, flooding all elections.
There is no substitute for activism and involvement. This is a non-partisan issue and is critical to all of us, regardless of our political affiliations, philosophies and world views. It’s about making sure “we the people” are properly and fairly represented in a clean and transparent election process, and that we are governed the same way by the legislator, executive and judiciary branches. Voting is critical, but clearly cannot do the job alone. Controlling and limiting how much money pours into who’s pockets (running for or currently holding office), as well as all the lobbying by big money interests, is the critical piece that will make the whole process better for all.
Let’s follow the Tallahassee example and build up from there. There will not be any solution coming from the top. It’s up to us.