We Must Do Better By the People, For the People

By Greg Stanton | Ahwatukee Foothills News
Apr 2, 2019
Editorials

More than 150 years ago, on a war-torn battlefield outside a small town in Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln reminded our nation of the enduring task of preserving our “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

That’s a responsibility of our generation, too – and the truth is, we must do better.

Perhaps not since Lincoln’s time have our politics been so divisive, so vile, so frustrating – and a real roadblock to making the progress we need.

One of the culprits and causes: the gobs of record cash and dark money spent by anonymous special interest groups to run attack ads, divide us and buy our elections.

We have a lot of work to do to create change, but the new Congress is taking an essential first step with House Resolution 1.

H.R. 1 is a transformative set of reforms that will shine a light on dark money and return political power to the public. Fittingly, we’ve named it the “For the People” Act.

The time for reform is now.

Today’s system is rigged, as special interest money in our elections drowns out the voices of everyday Americans. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made an imperfect system much worse, leading to a proliferation of dark money in our elections.

From 2008 to 2016, the amount of outside spending to influence elections increased ten-fold, rising to $1.4 billion during the last presidential election. And during each of the last four election cycles, more than $140 million was spent by groups that refuse to disclose their donors.

That’s unacceptable.

Those billions spent to influence elections and politicians? They’re not coming from everyday Americans but are more likely coming from Wall Street, Big Pharma and other high-powered interests working against the rest of us.

The “For the People” Act reforms will limit the influence of special interests and wealthy donors and crackdown on corruption, getting down to the root of dysfunction in Washington. It puts transparency and disclosure front and center by requiring political groups to disclose their large donors.

By making it so special interest groups can no longer hide donations, we can bring dark money out of the shadows for good.

I have a simple principle: The American people ought to know who is writing big checks to their elected officials and candidates for office.

This new legislation means more everyday voters’ voices will be heard, and politicians will be able to focus on the issues that matter most to constituents – like quality jobs, affordable health care, clean air and water, and strong infrastructure.

In our democracy, each of us has a responsibility – an obligation – to make sure our government is truly “of the people, by the people.”

By working together to lift the voices of everyday Americans above anonymous special interests, Congress can do its part to ensure it will remain “for the people.”