Monday, September 7, 2009


"Either the public buys the politicians or the special interests will."
-- George Skelton, LA Times 
Big Pharma makes sweetheart deals with the White House.

Big Oil sends employees to spoil congressional Town Halls with their assault rifles and their "grassroots" concerns about climate change.

Big Milk seizes the dairy industry (seriously). Last week NPR's John Burnett reported on two huge corporations which, ala Walmart, cow -- pun intended -- small independent farmers into selling their milk so cheaply, many are forced out of business. Bush Administration investigations against the two colossi evaporated.

Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Milk. All special interest patrons of America's Big Money bordello. What are good progressives to do? Either we get lobotomies (not that recession-lashed activists can afford them) or we fix the way the country finances politics.

It was thrilling last month when 65 Congressional Reps refused to crumple on the public health insurance option. But as I wrote in my last post, to salvage representative democracy, voters must reclaim our electoral power.

We deserve a country where politicians value all constituents as highly as their largest donors, where people without fortunes -- or access to them -- get an equal shot at running for office. And there is progress.

Voter Owned Elections and Open and Ethical Elections Codes are two Clean Money/Elections systems succeeding throughout US states and cities. Competitors get enough public - clean -- money to challenge even lavishly-financed opponents, in exchange for strictly limiting the cash they accept from private sources.

No more having to spend 30 percent of their time begging corporations and wealthy donors for contributions and then voting the interests of these backers. Candidates are free to learn what's important to voters, and once elected, to serve everyone they represent.

After years of disgust with electoral politics, I began working in 2000 to bring Clean and Fair Elections (California Clean Money Campaign [CCMC]) here. How else can we end the ubiquity of the political quid pro quo?

The CA legislature stunned supporters last year by passing the California Fair Elections Act (CFEA). It designates one contest -- the campaign for Secretary of State -- as our clean money pilot project.

Why Secretary of State? Partly because this officeholder manages all federal and state elections within California. If any job needs to be free from even the palest trace of manipulation, this is it. Remember George W's victory linchpins, Secretaries of State Kathryn Harris, Florida, 2000, and Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio, 2004?

Also, the Secretary of State regulates the activities of lobbyists. Conflict of interest over-easy, anyone?

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