We need to take back our elections.
Campaign season is a good time to consider how to improve the quality of our elections. In an era of Citizens United, increasingly our elections are dominated by negative advertisements from outside special interest groups. The most successful recent effort to deal with this problem is the People’s Pledge that Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren used in their 2012 election.
As shadowy “Super PACs” and their secret donors funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns elsewhere, 2012 Senate candidates Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts agreed to a “People’s Pledge” that could create a new model for campaign finance. Studies by Common Cause Massachusetts demonstrated that the candidates’ agreement to make charitable contributions to offset spending by outside groups kept most of those groups out of their contest.
Common Cause Rhode Island facilitated a similar agreement between three major candidates for governor in the 2014 Rhode Island Democratic primary and called on Republican candidates there to take a similar pledge for their primary.
A study by Common Cause Massachusetts found many benefits from a People’s Pledge, including:
- A more positive campaign featuring fewer negative outside advertisements
- Less undisclosed money from outside Super PACs and other “dark” money groups
- More small dollar donors
We need to take back our elections
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