Prez Candidates Get "It"
Right there in the middle of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) video blog announcement yesterday that he is forming an exploratory committee for the 2008 presidential race was an eloquent statement about what’s wrong with politics in America today: America’s faced big problems before, but today our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions. And that’s what we have to change first. Obama gets “it”. He understands the reason why we can’t make progress on issues important to working people, such as skyrocketing health care bills, loss of pensions, and the high cost of college is because of our system of privately financed elections. And he’s not the only 2008 presidential candidate who thinks so. Former senator John Edwards has long been a champion of public financing of elections. Here he is, earlier this month, quoted in tompaine.com: The starting point is comprehensive campaign finance reform, not tinkering at the edges—comprehensive campaign finance reform. I have said before that I support public financing of campaigns. As long as politicians are trapped in a desperate money chase, as long as they must spend huge amounts of time and resources to raise the money to run for re-election, we will continue to see wealthy interests trying to buy their way into favor. We need to change the way business is done there, and we need to do it immediately if we want to get out government back. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) has also spoken out on the need for public financing of campaigns, as reported last year in The Hill. In the past, so has Tom Vilsack. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was a cosponsor of the Kerry-Wellstone Clean Elections bill a few years back. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is a longtime backer of the same policy. And Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson recently called for full public financing of elections in his home state of New Mexico. It’s not all Democrats, either. Republican Sen. John McCain is best known for his leadership on the McCain Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which banned soft money contributions to federal parties. But he’s also been an active supporter of the Clean Elections system in his home state, Arizona, where candidates for statewide and legislative office who can qualify for full public financing of their campaigns and in other states as well. With the 2008 presidential election expected to cost $1 billion in private contributions, , by far the most expensive in history, there’s no doubt that presidential contenders are seeing this issue “up close and personal.” But that’s ok. The point is that the candidates for the most powerful office in this nation are ready to speak out: the bitter money chase is bad for politics. It gets in the way of getting things done. And Americans are sick of it.