American elections have become a front for legalized bribery, as wealthy political investors buy favors from our elected officials with big dollar gifts to campaigns, parties and political action groups.
The Government By the People Act, HR 20 in the 113th Congress, would give “we the people” tools to combat this big money takeover of our democracy. Introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, HR 20 would encourage candidates for the House of Representatives to run on a mix of small donations -- $150 or less -- from individuals and grants of public funds. Donors would receive a $25 “My Voice” tax credit; their donations would be matched on a 6-1 basis, so a $150 contribution would become $1,050 to the candidate. Additional matching funds would be available to candidates who agree to accept only small-dollar donations.
To counter the power of super PACs and “dark money” non-profit groups, the bill would provide additional public grants to candidates who raise $50,000 in small-dollar donations in a 60-day “home stretch” before Election Day.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, is expected to introduce a similar bill, the Fair Elections Now Act, that would apply to candidates for the Senate.
Systems like this have been tested and proven successful in states including Connecticut, Maine and Arizona. In addition to amplifying the power of small donors, they’ve encouraged people of limited means but with a desire to serve to plunge into politics and give us a government truly of, by and for the people.
Campaign finance reforms like the Government the People Act enjoy strong support in every part of the U.S. and among voters from across the political spectrum. A mid-December 2013 survey by Lake Research Partners found two-thirds of likely 2014 voters support a proposal to fund campaigns with small contributions and limited public funds. Only 16% were opposed and 19% were undecided. Support is high across party lines (77% among Democrats, 62% among Independents, 55% among Republicans) and regionally (66% in the Northeast, 63% in the Midwest, 61% in the South, 72% in the West).