Legislation and policy don’t reflect the will of the people because our voices have been drowned out by wealthy donors, corporate lobbyists, and special interest groups flooding the system with their money.
Fewer than 10% of Americans contribute to federal candidates and most of them are very small donors. The percentage who give more than $200 is about 1% and those who give $2,700 are about .1%. The rich thus have outsized influence, and they have very different priorities than the rest of us. Generally, the wealthy are more conservative, respect current authority, and encourage a less radical or rapid approach to change. Candidates and politicians quickly become subject to the donor class.
This doesn’t even account for the flood of money from corporations, the political parties, PACs and special interests. In 2016, election-related spending for all federal races from these entities and the campaigns themselves totaled around $6 billion.
What is required is tying the money to the will of the people.
The best plan is to issue $100 Democracy Dollars to every registered voter that they could give to any candidate they can vote for in a given year. They are ‘use it or lose it’ – if you don’t use them they simply expire.
There are presently 250 million voting age adults in the United States. If only 20 percent of eligible voters allocated their $100 to given candidates in an election cycle, that would be $5 billion, enough to counterbalance all the money that is currently being sourced by companies and special interests. If a Congressional candidate got 10,000 people excited, he or she would get $1 million, enough to be competitive.
A number of communities have adopted measures that either match small-dollar donations or simply grant voters money. For example, New York City matches small donations eight-to-one for those candidates who agree to contribution and spending limits. Maine has a robust system of publicly funding state candidates who gather $5 donations and then eschew further private funding. And Seattle, in 2016, approved four $25 democracy vouchers that voters could use on local candidates who abide by spending limits.
Studies show that the vouchers enabled donations among higher proportions of both young donors and those with lower incomes. This type of public financing also gets different candidates into races – those who don’t have wealthy networks.
By amplifying the voices of the American people, the government will be forced to listen.
Problems to be Solved:
- Money speaks more loudly than people, and our politicians and institutions respond accordingly.
- Most Americans can’t afford substantial donations to politicians they believe in.
- Individuals can’t afford to run for office without preexisting donor networks, so only the rich and well-connected can run.
- Existing political parties have outsized influence on who can run based on their control over existing donor networks.
“The big problem right now with running for office is that you have to get the money on your side and the people on your side, and these are two different things. Imagine if every American had $100 Dollars to give to their favorite candidate—then if you get 10,000 people behind you, you’d get $1 million. You could then act in the best interests of the people you represent instead of sucking up to rich people and companies. Calling rich people for money is soul-crushing. We’d all be better off if politicians just needed to worry about representing the people that elected them rather than hustling for money all of the time.”
- Put money in the hands of the people, drowning out the outsized voices of the wealthy and the special interests.
- Provide vouchers, based on total spending in previous elections, to all eligible voters so that they can support candidates they believe in.
If this sounds like the future you want to build for America, consider donating today!