Public funding of election campaigns needed


"If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you," said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to a conference of the American Bankers Association on how he operated as a congressman from South Carolina.

Was he encouraging bankers to step up their contributions? Guess whether he talked to lobbyists who made large contributions. Though he said this did not apply to his constituents, it shows pay-to-play was in place with the gamut of special interests. This is probably not a rare practice among politicians and is likely recognized by most lobbyists. And it is why big donors often get preferential treatment causing their wealth to soar at the expense of working people.

Indeed, so powerful is the force of political contributions, that despite the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists that the main cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels and if unchecked, warming could spin out of control and threaten civilization, the Republican Party is in denial about global warming thanks to large contributions from fossil fuel interests.

For instance, the Koch brothers and their associates have pledged to spend $400 million in the coming midterm elections. It is a mockery of democracy when big donors have a hugely outsized influence on who runs for office, who wins and what government does.

If we want to get democracy off the critical list and promote the general welfare mentioned in the constitution, we must get big money out of politics and have public funding of campaigns, which would untether politicians from big donors and make them more responsive to ordinary people.

Richard Barsanti

Western Springs

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