"Clean Money, Fair Elections" – Yes, It Could Be Done!

*We could kiss "special interest groups" good-bye for $5.50 a year

By Craig Dunkerley

Published in the New Neighborhood Voice
Newsletter of the East Foothills Neighborhoods in the Bay Area

Wouldn’t it be great if our elected officials really listened to our wants and needs and were more accountable to voters? And what if the political playing field was more level so that people with good ideas could run for office without having to be rich or powerful already?

If that sounds good to you, you’re not alone. And you could be from virtually any political party. The desire for more fair and more accountable government crosses all political lines. This is a decidedly non-partisan issue.

Fortunately there’s a sensible, inexpensive and proven way to encourage all these things: Public Financing for Political Campaigns … sometimes called "Clean Money." I’m a volunteer with California Clean Money (www.CAclean.org), a non-profit, non-partisan group working to bring this proven system to California. A bill to do this is now before the Assembly, AB 583.

The idea is simple. Whoever pays for a candidate’s campaign is who they’re going to owe their allegiance to. The good news is that while there are thousands of special interest groups, there are millions of us voters. We actually have the advantage of numbers; all we need to do is use it. And it’s a lot cheaper for each of us to chip in a little (about $5.50 per year!) to take back our government than it is to forfeit that government to the special interest groups who essentially own it now. With that small amount from each of us, all candidates who qualify and agree to accept no private funds could have their primary and general election campaigns completely funded. At California Clean Money we think $5.50 a year per voter is a very reasonable amount to invest in good government.

In addition, as the halls of government fill up with Clean Money candidates, the cost of governing goes down and the Clean Money system actually pays for itself many times over. This is because there are far fewer expensive special interest projects and tax loopholes designed to benefit the few that make their way into law. Government is much more cost effective if everyone is paying their fair share, and no one is getting special favors.

And we’re not talking about some weird experiment. It's already working in Arizona and Maine and it's coming soon to Connecticut. The overwhelming consensus among voters and candidates who have tried it is that the new system works much better…and the cost savings are real.

Incumbents and new candidates say they love being able to spend more time courting voters and less time "dialing for dollars." And once they get elected, they can do what they honestly think benefits the voters without worrying about offending any special interest group.

Voters love it too. They end up with an elected representative who’s more accountable to them and less vulnerable to the pay-to-play politics that undermines our current system.

I’m very excited to be working on something with such a large potential to help all Californians of all political stripes. If you’d like more information or would like to pitch in, just go to www.CAclean.org, or call me, Craig, at (408) 929-3865.


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