Common Cause commends John Edwards for democracy platform

Public financing, paper trail, and net neutrality among Edwards’ priorities

Common Cause commends Democratic presidential candidate, former Sen. John Edwards, both for the substance of his democracy reform proposals and for his candor in making those policy positions explicit and clear. On Oct. 13, Edwards unveiled his “One Democracy Initiative,” which included commitments on campaign finance, elections, and media reform. He pledged to champion reforms such as full public financing for congressional races, a paper trail for all voting machines, and net neutrality, all of which are among Common Cause’s priorities.

“Issues at the core of our democracy, like putting elections back in the hands of regular voters via public financing or making sure every vote counts by requiring a voter-verified paper trail, are on Americans’ minds and they belong in the presidential debate,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar said. “John Edwards has issued a strong set of proposals that would restore voters’ confidence in our system.

“We commend him for this platform, and we hope that other candidates will make clear their plans to limit the role of wealthy campaign contributors and their lobbyists in Washington, to allow greater access to the polls, and to keep the internet free and open,” Edgar added.

Edwards broke new ground among the candidates by committing, in writing, to pass a system of full public financing for congressional races, as well as upgrading the outdated Presidential public financing system. The proposal follows the example of Maine and Arizona, which have used voluntary full public financing systems-also known as “Clean Elections”-for statewide races for the past several election cycles with remarkable success. Connecticut is also about to start using a similar system. Common Cause and a broad coalition of national groups are lobbying for voluntary full public financing for congressional races, embodied in the Senate Fair Elections Now Act (S.1285), introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).

“Our country needs to address health care, climate change, the economy, and Iraq, but we can’t have a vibrant, honest debate when wealthy special interests are allowed to dominate in financing campaigns and lobbying in Washington,” said Edgar. “We need to put power back in the hands of average voters and reinvigorate our democracy. I’m glad to see John Edwards is committing to tackle these challenges and I hope we’ll see the same commitments from the other candidates.”

Common Cause will be compiling public statements made by Presidential candidates on democracy and good governance issues and will soon be posting them on its website.