Monday, January 08, 2007

While the iron is hot

Campaign finance reform -- including some form of public funding of elections -- must not fall between the cracks if Democrats expect to live up to Americans' hopes for real change and retain their newfound leadership posts.

The money chase is one of the most corrupting influences on politicians, a universally hated "necessity" for politicians, and one that well-funded lobbying groups will be just as eager to exploit with Democrats as with the GOP.

NBC reported Friday that:
"... hours after changing House rules to reduce favors from lobbyists, it was back to business as usual in Washington.

Democrats threw a $1,000-a-person fundraising concert in Washington Thursday night, with Hollywood celebrities, big donors and those lobbyists writing checks to re-elect Democrats."
Last week David Sirota cited Roll Call:
" 'I am going to be embraced and hugged and kissed as long as I’m giving them a check' for their campaign, said one lobbyist."
Business as usual is what voters spoke out against on November 7. And that's not going to change unless Democrats insist upon changing it.

They would be wise to pay close attention to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) who proposed some of the toughest reforms in the nation in his recent State of the State address:
"Reform will not be complete if we simply address the supply of contributions. We must also address the demand. Full public financing must be the ultimate goal of our reform effort. By cutting off the demand for private money, we will cut off the special-interest influence that comes with it."
A few Democrats in 109th Congress proposed reforms that died in committee: Reps. David Obey and Barney Frank with `Let the People Decide Clean Campaign Act'; and Rep. John Tierney with the `Clean Money, Clean Elections Act'.

Maine and red-state Arizona have moved in that direction as well.

"Votes for Sale?" on PBS' Now program last October observed:
Pushing special interest money out of the election process may do more than clean things up. It could also open the door for a variety of people who care about democracy to run for office with realistic hopes of winning. Case in point: Arizona State Representative Doug Quelland, a conservative Republican who supports clean elections by his own example. With a background in public school teaching and running a handful of neighborhood businesses, including a lawnmower repair shop, Quelland captured voter interest door-to-door armed only with his passion and point of view. He's now running for his third term in the state legislature and still sports his trademark handlebar moustache. "I don't want to owe anybody anything. I don't want to have to have the special interests. I just want to do it and not beholden to anybody."
But as it now stands, the country is still way out ahead of its leaders. It's time our leaders caught up.

[big h/t] David Sirota

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