Space Coast Progressive Alliance

The Future of the American Experiment is in Your Hands
Thursday, 04 September 2008 23:00

Support the Common Cause Letter on Clean Elections

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Common Cause has provided an automatic email opportunity for us to approach our congressional representatves and all candidates running in our districts in the 2008 elections about Clean Elections.  Please visit this link and follow the simple directions.  It takes only about two minutes to complete the whole task.
 
You may either use the Common Cause letter directly, or you can use my letter provided below, or write your own.
 
Thanks, Fred Markham
SCPA Clean Elections Coordinator
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<my letter - use directly or modify to suit yourself>
 
This week, former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is being sentenced on charges of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion.  Until we change the way we pay for our congressional campaigns, there will be other Abramoffs trying to buy off elected officials. We need comprehensive public financing so that federal elections are about ideas, voters and leadership, not wealthy donors and special interests.

Aside from - and FAR WORSE than - the illegal activities of Abramoff and his ilk, our current system for financing election campaigns creates an environment that degrades our democracy "of the people, by the people, and for the people", in a number of ways that are completely legal.

First, prohibitively high campaign costs deter many potential candidates who, despite being qualified in every other way, are not wealthy or well-connected to sources of big money.  This significantly limits the economic and racial diversity of candidates,  restricting the candidate field to a tiny, well-heeled fraction of society. Thus our government is elected, not "of the people", but instead "of a small, elite segment of the people".

Second, elections for Congressional seats, and especially for state legislature seats, are often uncontested because incumbents have compiled large campaign funds that ward off potential challengers.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics web site, in the 2006 Florida elections, 6 of 25 Congressional seats were unopposed, and 73 of 140 state legislative seats were either completely unopposed, or else contested only by a candidate who raised zero dollars.  This deplorable lack of competition for important government offices decreases the incentive for incumbents to be responsive to their constituency, and frees them instead to be ever more responsive to their campaign financiers. Thus our government is not "for the people" but "for the special interests who provide the campaign finance money".

Third, elected officials must continually raise funds to secure the next election. This is such a time-consuming, all-consuming burden, that there is little time left for writing and negotiating the country's legislation - or often even for reading it.  The legislation is instead written by lobbyists who are financed by the same organizations who provide the money that our legislators so ardently pursue.  Thus the government is not being run "by the people", i.e., not by our elected representatives.  Instead, it is being run to a far too great extent "by the special interests who fund the election campaigns".

The dependency of our elected officials on private money
is well-documented and undeniable.  It makes a mockery of that first and most cherished ideal that we learned in grade school about America: that we are a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". 

There is a way out of this problem: public financing of elections, a.k.a., CLEAN ELECTIONS, FAIR ELECTIONS, or PUBLICLY OWNED ELECTIONS. I strongly urge you to support a system of public financing for qualified candidates who agree to strict spending limits and to take only small donations.  Common Cause and a coalition of reform groups are also asking candidates to sign the Voters First Pledge this election season; I hope you will sign if you haven?t already.

I look forward to hearing your views on this subject.

Sincerely,
Last modified on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 19:04
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