Update: On 3/29/16, the Boston Globe published a shorter version of this post as a letter to the editor. Check it out here!
A recent Boston Globe headline,“Influence of super PACs in primaries has been limited,” draws the wrong lesson from the 2016 race so far. It makes the point that “the ultra-rich have spent massive sums on super PACs and television advertising only to watch their chosen candidates fall by the wayside,” and that the power of big money donors has not met the expectations of campaign finance reform advocates like Common Cause. We respectfully disagree.
This line of thinking misses the full extent of the big money problem. As our Executive Director Pam Wilmot recently argued in an op-ed, the truth is that money buys policy, not just elections. It’s not just about whether the best-funded candidate wins or loses the presidency, it’s about the barrier money presents for anyone deciding whether to run for office, the influence of money on races all the way down the ticket, and the skewing of policy priorities towards the interests of the wealthy that occurs after the election is over.
To solve these issues, we need to make it easier for regular people to run and serve, to elect representatives who are like us, who listen to us, and who will pass policy that benefits all Americans, not just the wealthy. In the Fighting Big Money agenda, Common Cause and other leading democracy advocates laid out a comprehensive set of national solutions to achieve that goal and called on all of the presidential candidates to endorse it. In the coming month, we will also urge all congressional candidates endorse the agenda.
And in Massachusetts, we can work to implement much of this agenda at the state and local level. We can take the lead on restoring our democracy and take action to empower all citizens. We need to push this campaign on all fronts if we are to truly restore democracy for all.