On January 31st, every political campaign, candidate, and organization had to lawfully file their year-end reports for 2017. These reports include a roll-up of how much they have received, spent, disbursed, along with information as to who and where this money was sent.
In the following days after every filing report deadline, news organizations like to tout how much money this group or this person received and how it is indicative of their campaign. Money is the metric with which we view democracy because greed has become the ideal principle that drives our political leaders.
Nearly every working American will say that our electoral system has become a cesspool of donors, lobbyists, and career politicians. You need look no further than at the stream of questions I face when asked about who I have backing my campaign or who I have endorsing me. Not once has that question ever been prefaced with a question about my policy beliefs, stances, or programs.
If you’ve been following my campaign for a bit, you will know that I have refused to conduct mass-scale fundraising operations.
My reasoning now is as clear and simple as it was when we first started. Across America, people are struggling: senior citizens, working-class families, students, veterans, the whole lot. Wages are stagnant and the uncertainty in Washington only exacerbates the anxiety most Americans feel about their future on a daily basis.
Which is why I believe we need to completely uproot and overhaul campaign finance laws.
Many people cite the biggest culprit of our current polluted election system as the disastrous ‘Citizens United’ ruling. And while I agree that this ruling certainly has been detrimental to our electoral system, it isn’t a sole systemic issue.
Campaign finance is a hot-button issue, and one that our elected officials are very apt to call for reform of, but rarely willing to take a stand on. Why is that? Because it is through the millions of dollars that are raised that congressional candidates are able to essentially “live a life of luxury”. Scour through an FEC filing and you will see how candidates reimburse themselves for mileage, travel, dinner, gifts, etc. through this money. The millions of dollars they raise—which we “think” are going solely to ads, research, and publications—in fact are going right back into the candidate’s pockets.
It’s a hard truth. But a truth we can’t ignore.
So what do we do? What could we possibly do to limit the amount of money candidates receive, to limit the amount of influence corporations might have, and to bring back a sense of selfless service to the halls of Congress?
Campaign spending caps.
Yes, exactly what it sounds like. Just like major sports leagues have implemented caps to keep a level playing field, Congress must enact the same. A cap on how much a campaign can spend on a yearly basis, or in an election year, would not only increase the amount of competition, reduce the barriers for outsiders to get involved in politics, increase the discourse and voice of the American public, but would mitigate the effects of ‘Citizens United’.
We simply can’t keep going back to the idea of overturning the Supreme Court decision in this case. Case in point, people have been trying to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision for over 30 years. If we are to have true success in taking back our democracy, of beating the oligarchy, and of restoring a Government of, by, and for the people, we must attack the root of the problem; political greed.
It’s a simple solution, for a relatively simple problem. And it this solution that I am fully onboard pushing forward, because I believe the need for campaign finance reform is not only vital for the defense of democracy but more importantly for the future of America.
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Adam DeMarco is a graduate of West Point where he served as an Officer in the United States Army with multiple combat tours and has spent the past few years in corporate professional services in both federal and commercial practices.
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Rosenfeld, Steven. ‘Democracy Betrayed: How Superdelegates, Redistricting, Party Insiders, and the Electoral College Rigged the 2016 Election’.