Stop Wall Street From Occupying CongressNovember 10, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
It’s no coincidence that over the past few years we’ve experienced the largest and most sustained activations of grassroots political protest that this country has seen in decades. We’re beginning to rebel against a political system that tries to placate us while the government and corporations collude to secure extraordinary powers for themselves.
Our democracy is broken. Congress’ approval rating is at a record low, and the leadership structure in Washington D.C. is designed to protect the status quo while preventing those who want real reform from gaining power.
That’s why Occupy Wall Street and PPF take to the streets, and it’s why we must capitalize on this moment of power to attack the root cause of our broken democracy — the corrupting influence of money in politics. The Participatory Politics Foundation and OpenCongress.org support the Occupy Wall Street movement and its momentous protests against a political system compromised by powerful corporations.
One first step is cleaning up elections, and there exists a way to do that: the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1404 in the House, S. 750 in the Senate). The bill already has some support from members of Congress, but we need them to fight harder, and we need more co-sponsors of this basic reform.
The Fair Elections Now Act would allow candidates for the Hose and Senate to run for office without having to raise money from lobbyists, corporate bundlers, and wealthy donors. Instead, candidates would qualify for public matching funds if they raise a substantial number of small donations.
Under the Fair Elections system, candidates would raise a large number of small-donor contributions in order to receive additional public funding — $900,000 split 40/60 between the primary and general elections. Fair-Elections candidates would be eligible for additional public funds — five dollars for every 1 dollar raised — if they continue to raise more small donations, so there is a strong incentive for candidates to continually reach out to as many people as possible. Donations would be capped at $100, so there would be no incentive for candidates to focus their campaigns on a select group of wealthy donors and moneyed interests. The best value for candidates would be in connecting with as many people in the community as possible.
The system would be funded through a small fee on government contractors and through an auction of unused broadcast spectrum.
If you agree with PPF that the first step to restoring our democracy is reforming the election financing process, please take a minute to use our new, dirt-simple Contact-Congress platform to tell your lawmakers to co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act. And if they are already co-sponsoring the bill, thank them and urge them to do more to get it passed.
After you’ve contacted Congress, share this message with your social networks to help get more people to take up the fight against corporate ownership of Congress (Facebook and Twitter). Then go out and find a rally, protest or occupation you support and join that too.
The people at large have a rare opportunity right now to come together around a fundamental restructuring of who has power in our democracy. Let’s not squander this moment.