This fall, as Super PACs and other shadowy groups bombard our country with shrill political ads, average Americans are becoming increasingly cynical about whether their voices are being heard and whether Congress can operate independently of these special interests.
That's why I have devoted my campaign this time to building a network of grassroots supporters. I’m hoping to send the message that grassroots donors, banding together by the thousands, can fight back against the big money. What’s so refreshing is that a citizen who becomes a grassroots donor – giving $5, $25 or $50 – is not looking for special favors. He or she is simply expecting their member of Congress to go do the right thing. I’ve dedicated a special website to this effort at www.grassrootsdonor.com.
For decades, reform advocates have struggled to rescue our democracy from the threat of special interest money, but it’s only gotten worse. Since 1983, spending on political campaigns has increased by more than 500 percent. With an average cost of $1.3 million for each winning Congressional campaign, viable candidates for Congress must now begin fundraising from the moment they decide to run for office. And once a candidate is elected, the cycle of endless fundraising continues, making it impossible for them to do their job. There is less and less time for learning the issues or developing the relationships that encourage compromise and bipartisanship.
To help address these problems, I have developed the Grassroots Democracy Act – a three-pronged reform to restore sanity to our system and amplify the people's voice in federal elections. The proposal would:
Help More Americans Participate – Establishes a $50 tax credit for average Americans to contribute to candidates who they believe can best represent them in Congress.
Amplify Grassroots Support – Provides candidates who refuse PAC contributions and focus on grassroots donors with matching funds for grassroots contributions.
Give the People a Voice – Creates a 'People's Fund' to ensure that grassroots supported candidates can be heard even if Super PACs or other outside groups try to take over the airwaves.
The current model of funding campaigns is making our democratic institutions overly dependent on deep-pocketed special interests. It's time to build a new model that empowers grassroots donors and guarantees that candidates will depend on the people. I pledge to fight for that new paradigm – in my own campaign and in my work in Congress.