In the Federalist Papers one can find that the Founding Fathers, when creating our more perfect union, intended to create a government that was dependent upon the people alone. Yet our current system is one that has become almost entirely dependent upon special interests, lobbyists and the .01%. We even have a term for it, we call it "pay to play."
Last week Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis authored a piece titled "Op-Ed: Public Corruption Prevention and Enforcement Act."
where she argues against a statewide campaign finance system. Opponents of Fair Elections argue against reform with generalities, mixed arguments, hyperbolic numbers and unsubstantiated claims. But supporters of reform can rely upon research, data and fact. We simply know that it works.
The research tells us that matching systems like the one proposed in the Fair Elections bill significantly decrease corruption.
We know that elections become more competitive and the slate of candidates more diverse
and more representative of their districts.
We know that special interests financial influence is dramatically reduced, for example contrast the 7% of donations to NYC campaigns with the whopping 70% of donations to NY state candidates from special interests.
We know that trust in government
increases because participation of everyday citizens, like us, in the political process has increased in some cases more than 24 times.
Opponents of Fair Elections want us to believe that they are protecting our tax dollars by refusing to allow them to fund political campaigns. But these same defenders of the status quo are only too happy to redirect our tax dollars to the needs and interests of the special interests that fund their campaigns. Cuts to vital programs and services and rising tolls aren't the result of a Fair Elections system, but rather the absence of one.
This is the point of Fair Elections. Politicians will do what makes their donors happy, because it is their donors that make it possible for them to get elected. The very idea of Fair Elections is to make us the donors, and by so doing ensure that the candidates don't spend days on end locked in a room dialing for dollars from special interests, but rather knocking on our doors, shaking our hands and listening to our needs.
The clearest indication that we need a Fair Elections system to make Albany dependent upon the people alone can be found in the fact
that 90% of New Yorkers believe ending corruption to be a top priority. In fact 80% of Independents, 75% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans believe the way to end that corruption is through a Fair Elections system. Somehow with such overwhelming support from voters across the political spectrum we can't even get the bill to come up for a vote in the Republican controlled State Senate.
Opponents of reform are champions of the status quo. Opponents of Fair Elections are champions of special interests. It's time we follow the facts and ignore their rhetoric, it's time for Fair Elections now.