Back in early July, we sent a request with a few of our partners in reform to every candidate running for Congress this fall urging them to sign the Voters First Pledge, a simple statement of support for legislation for a new system of pubic funding for congressional campaigns. So far, nearly 220 candidates have made the pledge – but there are still many others who have yet to tell us where they stand.
So, we’ve sent yet another letter to candidates who haven’t responded and have asked our members and activists to make sure the candidates in their districts know this is an issue they shouldn’t ignore. It’s frankly hard to understand why a candidate wouldn’t want to commit to change business as usual in Washington today. The urgent need for reform is summed up neatly in the letter:
As the nation faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, now is the time for bold reforms to both the financial and political systems. Wall Street and powerful financial interests should not be funding campaigns for Congress if we want a political system that truly works for the American people. Public confidence in Congress is at an all-time low, and voters assume that both incumbents and challengers are under the undue influence of special interests.
Seeking big donations does not end with the campaign season – from their first day in office members of Congress must continue to dial for dollars. The result? Policies that favor Wall Street and not Main Street. Public funding of campaigns would allow our elected officials to get off the fundraising treadmill and truly represent the interests of ordinary citizens.
As our letter points out, public financing of elections is an issue that resonates with voters:
Seventy-four percent of voters surveyed in 2006 said they supported
voluntary public funding of federal elections, with a mere 16 percent
• The support was across
party lines, with 80 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Republicans,
and 78 percent of independents – a remarkable degree of support across
• When presented with an
unnamed candidate with no party identification, favorable ratings
increased dramatically when voters were told the candidate pledged to
support public funding of campaigns – and dropped dramatically when
told the candidate refused to pledge support for public funding. This
was tested against typical issue profiles for Republican and Democratic
candidates, clearly demonstrating the power of this issue push voters
towards or away from candidates, even when combined with other policy
positions favored by those voters.
We’re giving candidates until noon on this Wednesday, October 22 to sign the pledge. Then we’re going to announce who’s committed to real change in politics.