Giving the American People Their Voice Back: The Plan
Our political system is currently saturated by the influence of money. While many Democrats and Independents call for systemic change, little to no action is taken on the federal level. We need to go beyond platitudes - there is legislation out there that would get big money out of politics. There are currently three pieces of proposed legislation that, if enacted together, would provide comprehensive reforms to the American campaign financing system and significantly limit the influence of wealthy donors in elections. In Congress, Leah would cosponsor bills in the US House to mirror the legislation below.
- The Fair Elections Now Act, introduced in 2015 by Senator Durbin, sets up a voluntary public financing system for candidates running for the U.S. Senate in both the primary and general elections, that privileges small contributions with 6:1 matching funds. Similar legislation has been introduced for a nearly identical voluntary public financing system for candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.
- We the People Democracy Reform Act of 2017, introduced in 2015 by Senator Udall, overhauls the voluntary presidential public financing system to make it viable once again by increasing the matching funds for small contributions from a 1:1 to a 6:1 match, removing spending limits, and restricting participating candidates from receiving money from lobbyists and PACs. It also establishes nonpartisan redistricting commissions to draw House congressional districts; establishes a system of automatic voter registration and provides for same day voter registration.
- The Democracy for All amendment is a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment, introduced by Senator Udall in 2017. It authorizes Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
The first two pieces of legislation set up voluntary public financing systems for all national-level elections that: a) increases the power of small donations and thus the voice of the average citizen, while allowing candidates to choose not to be beholden to wealthy individuals or corporations; and b) sets realistic guidelines that allow candidates that opt for public funding to remain competitive against candidates utilizing private funding.
While the introduction of these bills is a start, Congress cannot do this alone. Leah will need colleagues in Congress that are willing to stand up to big money and special interests. There needs to be an overwhelming call from constituents that getting big money out of politics must be a priority, and that officials that do not support reform will not be allowed to retain their seats. The American people need to elect congressional members that vow to support these bills, and that will work across partisan lines to ensure the people’s voice is returned to them. This problem can be solved. We can return the power to the people, but we need to do it together.