Let me first say that having spent this past weekend off of Twitter and away from the political world, I felt a sense of relief. I highly recommend this to any of you out there who have been suffering from Trump derangement syndrome. No Trump tweets. No Trump comments. No Trump. I have to admit … I feel pretty damn good.
That being said, this is a political blog and I’m in this game for the long run. I care about politics and I’m not going to let the occupant in The White House ruin it for me. And, on cue, I see he’s already weighed in on The Kentucky Derby, lied about aid to Puerto Rico, and stated his desire that Robert Mueller should not testify before Congress. Yep, if it’s a day that ends in y, the President of the United States is either lying … or complaining. Nothing has changed.
But back to politics. There are a whole lot of Democrats running for the presidential nomination–in case you haven’t heard. I think we’re in the low twenties at this point and I think we should be near the end of those declaring–at least I hope that’s the case. Enough is enough.
I have not decided as of yet, who I will support. But I do like some of the proposals I’ve been hearing from various candidates. I’ve already weighed in on some of Elizabeth Warren’s policies, and she has certainly been very impressive in the early going. But we’re starting to hear from the others as well. And when I hear any of them come up with something I feel sets them apart from the others, I promise I will highlight it.
To that point, before my brief self-exclusion from all things political this past weekend, I saw an interview of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC. She spoke of a new policy initiative on an issue that’s near and dear to my heart: money in politics.
Senator Gillibrand, to be fair, has not been able to muster a whole lot of attention thus far. The latest polling doesn’t even have her registering 1%. So, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Senator from New York. Nevertheless, I hope her newest proposal at least gets some attention.
Her plan’s goal is to get more small-dollar donations into politics. She wants to give every voter $200 they can donate to the presidential candidate of their choice. She calls the plan “Clean Elections” and she unveiled it via Medium last Wednesday, and then on her interview with Hayes.
The gist of the plan is this: every voter who opts in would receive $200 to donate for each presidential election, split across the primary and the final race. Voters would also receive the same amount of money for both federal Senate and House races, which could ultimately mean they could get a total of $600 per person, depending on the cycle.
How would she pay for it? By eliminating a tax subsidy that CEO’s receive, which her campaign estimated would result in roughly $60 billion revenue over a ten-year period. Look, the bottom line here is that the Senator feels it’s a pretty good idea to try and give more voters a voice in federal elections, instead of the oversized one that rich donors now enjoy. I could not agree more.
In her Medium piece, Gillibrand writes, “For too long, small groups of wealthy donors have had outsized influence over our government. These groups also tend to be disproportionately white and male. My plan would flip the equation–empowering more women of color to have a say in our government and set our course for a more equal and just future.”
The plan itself is modeled after “Democracy Vouchers,” enacted by the city of Seattle in 2015, and it’s a plan I wrote about in this space. Vox has a good piece examining the pros and cons of Seattle’s initiative, as well as what it might mean for Gillibrand’s going forward.
It’s far too early to speculate if her plan will ever see the light of day. But, she deserves credit for being bold and creative. And let’s also not lose sight of the fact that it’s the Democratic Party that’s at least trying to address an issue that I think goes to the heart of what’s wrong in our Democracy. The Republican Party is nowhere to be seen on this. The more Democrats running for the nomination go down this road, the more the American people get to see which party is willing to change, and which party is quite comfortable with the status quo.
Most of the candidates have expressed the desire to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision of 2010. The House of Representatives has already passed an anti-corruption/voter enhancement initiative(HR 1), which didn’t see the light of day in the Republican led Senate. These are the kind of things that must be pointed out to the American people on a daily basis. Until we get control of money in politics–we’re screwed. The people who are putting up roadblocks need to be voted out. Period.
So, while Senator Gillibrand may be having a tough time gaining traction with her campaign, she deserves some real credit here for putting some specifics out there for all of us to digest. The debates are coming soon. Here’s hoping the Senator’s idea gets a fair shake from the media.