On Friday, February 9th, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn provided testimony on the need to expand and strengthen the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) in Connecticut. Wendy and Karen expressed the need to strengthen the CEP as an important tool for giving ordinary citizens a voice and creating transparency in our government. Connecticut’s program is a model for the rest of the country. Since it was implemented 10 years ago, the General Assembly... Read More
The richest of the 1 percent have increasingly been able to put their mark on our democracy. Their values and interests differ from those of everyday Americans, and their mega-dollars diminish the votes and power of the rest of us. But we have the power to build a people-powered democracy. People need to get involved and adopt common sense reforms at the local, state, and federal level to ensure that the American people have a say in our government and the policy choices they make.
Concrete steps like the 2015 measure for clean, accountable elections in Maine and democracy vouchers in Seattle promote fair and just standards that eliminate barriers for people from all walks of life to run for office, not just a wealthy few. These reforms make a real impact on the lives of minorities, young people, people with disabilities, and working people. For instance, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to require paid sick leave for most employees. The passage of that law followed closely on the adoption of a law to fund campaigns with small contributions only. Not only are their solutions, there is a growing movement of people committed to solve the problem.
Small changes in cities and states are important first steps in the fight for fair, accountable campaign spending and a government that is truly of, by, and for the people. Breaking down the barrier of money in politics, however, will not be easy. The 25 largest donors collectively contributed $261 million in disclosed contributions and tens of millions more in undisclosed contributions in 2012. They have good reason to oppose laws that will amplify the voices of everyday citizens, because most of those voices - 7 in 10 of all Americans - support campaign finance reform. If we all work together, we can shift the balance of our democracy back to the people and show our leaders that the best way to get elected is with our votes, not their money.