At Public Campaign and the Action Fund, we've long argued that campaign finance reform ought to be as much about bringing voters back into politics and our democracy as it is about getting big money out of elections. That means focusing on greater and more meaningful participation as the organizing principle around which we design policies.
As evidence that a growing chorus of organizations have come to the same conclusion, it's important to point out a letter sent today by National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel to President Obama, calling on him to advance three principles in his State of the Union address next week. The third principle reads: “Opportunity requires a democracy that protects every American’s voice and vote.”
Lifting the voice of every American in our political system means allowing small donations to count for more and for the participation of everyday people to not be drowned out by big money from a few. In my colleague Nick Nyhart's words, we need a politics of the many, not the money.
Here are some excerpts from the letter:
“[W]e hope the State of the Union will chart a course for the nation that is built upon the following principles:
1) Opportunity requires an economy that works for everyone.
2) Opportunity begins in great public schools for every single student.
3) Opportunity requires a democracy that protects every American’s voice and vote.
… the crisis of opportunity for Americans to participate in our democracy was on full display during the last election cycle. Reactionary state laws, unequal and unethical administration of voting procedures, and the unfettered access of corporations to influence electoral outcomes has severely damaged our democracy. We must correct this threat to our democracy by ensuring: 1) universal voter registration (as promoted by the Brennan Center); 2) equitable administration by states of voting procedures and access to the polls; and 3) that we curb the influence of money in politics that has resulted from the infamous Citizens United decision.”
Executive Director, Public Campaign Action Fund