Elections are more sensationalized, more publicized, and more expensive than ever. If winning the next election is the single unifying motivator, the common denominator which dictates all decision-making in politics, then those who provide the means to win elections hold immeasurable power over the American system as a whole.
Fundraising is absolutely imperative, and how a candidate sources their funds often tells you far more about that candidate’s loyalties than the party they represent or the platform they espouse.
How do the same establishment politicians keep being re-elected despite achieving minimal change? Why does it seem that politicians do the bidding of big business interests over those of their own constituents? Why is the standard of living of average people worsening, while the top 1% add to their riches?
The answer: Corporate money in elections. Politicians who falsely claim to be progressive Democrats, like my opponent, rely on corporate dollars to fund over 98% of their election bills. In return, they stall true progressive change and maintain legislative norms to protect the economic interests of those companies, above all else.
Our reality was cemented by the 2010 supreme court case Citizens United vs FEC, which upended over 100 years of FEC regulation that prevented unlimited political spending from corporations. The decision allowed for companies to spend endless amounts of resources on political elections, as long as they are not “officially” associated with a candidate and/or party. So, not only are corporations empowered to donate up to $5000 per year to candidates directly through Political Action Committees (which my opponent benefits from), but with Citizens United, they are capable of donating unlimited funds through Super PACs. Super PACs are outside groups which can funnel millions of dollars towards campaign efforts to target or support a candidate.
When elected, I will fight to reverse Citizens United by supporting legal efforts to overturn the decision and political efforts to amend the constitution to end corporate personhood and eliminate the ruling’s authority, with proposed efforts like Rep. Jayapal’s We the People Amendment.
If you want to learn who finds your representative, you have to embark on a tedious mission of sifting through hundreds of online FEC filings. This lack of transparency obscures the public’s view of Washington, leaving politicians completely unaccountable in their governance. This means you are being cheated. We can reintroduce bills like the DISCLOSE Act to require further campaign contribution disclosure requirements. We must refit available FEC public data to increase accessibility and visibility for constituents.
We cannot achieve full transparency by simply making the system more visible. We also must reform the system. It is time to support legislation like Senator Mark Kelly’s bill to ban the existence of corporate PAC’s, reducing the legal donated limit from $5000 to $0. Nearly two-thirds of Americans support this form of legislative change, across party, region, class, or color. Furthermore, no conversation of accountability can be held without addressing “dark money, a term referring to unrestricted funds from undisclosed sources.” While Super PAC’s must disclose their donor list, nonprofits, which can donate unlimited funds to Super PACs, are not required to do the same. It is vital that we properly regulate the IRS code towards 501(c) groups in order to mandate disclosure and establish rigid rules of procedure for permissible political activity.
The present circumstances of our campaign finance system have real, detrimental impacts upon American society. We must refer to this relationship between wealthy donors and politicians as what it really is: legalized corruption. Because of the political conditions we built, representatives spend the vast majority of their time fundraising instead of governing. With expected quotas for raised contributions becoming exorbitantly high, elected officials try to serve their corporate contributors above all. Actual constituents hold far less sway than the top donor class, and that influence only decreases in populations of higher poverty. When voter interests are taken into consideration, it is often disproportionately those of conservative white males with immense wealth, creating a power imbalance and skewing politicians’ perception of public opinion.
However, it is vital that we recognize that the campaign finance problem afflicts both sides of the political aisle. There is no partisan limit to the legalized corruption within Washington. Countless Democratic officials, like the representative of CA-34, operate at the will of major industries who fund their campaigns. Those same corporate dollars are being used to defeat progressive challengers like myself.
As a progressive Democrat, I am not running against a Democratic incumbent. I am running against a cabal of corporate agents, using big money to advance their own interests, ahead of the needs of the people of CA-34. In order to beat this “Goliath” and rebuild our political system, I need your support.