Reviving a Good Idea
Senator Mark Udall from Colorado is weighing in on Presidential Fair Elections, or public financing of campaigns. Common Cause is a strong supporter of public financing of campaigns. In fact, we have been pushing to have fair elections in Congress, with the Fair Elections Now Act. It gives people who wouldn’t normally have a shot at running for office a chance to run. Anyone who’s met more than a few elected officials can tell you that most citizens are just as smart and able as those people in office – and would do as well or better if given a chance to run on a level playing field.
Money has always been a part of politics — but it should not be a determining factor in the outcome of presidential elections. Throughout my time in public service, I’ve believed truly democratic elections are about ideas, debates and a choice for the future of the country — not about which candidate spends more time fundraising or has wealthier friends.
That is why, in 1974, Congress enacted legislation establishing the presidential public financing system. Passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the presidential public financing system has funded primary and general election presidential elections for almost 40 years. The fund has provided opportunities for lesser-known candidates with new and innovative ideas for the direction of America. It supported candidates from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, and has given lesser-known candidates the chance to share their message directly with the American people. The presidential public financing system enriches the political discourse of the country and ensures that the American people have a voice in elections, not just connected insiders, special interests, or wealthy donors.