Why It Matters
When our elected officials spend all their time raising money, they have no time for the real work of governing: crafting policy that helps all Americans. Making government work for the people is issue one.
When money talks, Congress listens
When our founders created our system of self-government, it was the greatest political innovation in history. But today, the American experiment is in danger. Our government is no longer responsive to the people because our politics and policymaking are dominated by money, creating a rigged system where most Americans are shut out of the political process. While Congress prioritizes chasing money for re-election, our country stumbles from one self-imposed crisis to the next. Our legislature is seen by the public as more responsive to donors than to voters. Congress lacks in-house expertise on policy matters and technology, resulting in its reliance on lobbyists and interest groups. And we have to live with the consequences. We can’t rise to our greatest challenges as a country because good policy and effective governance have been stifled by the power of money, cronyism and partisanship.
The 114th Congress collectively spent 1,092,080 hours raising money instead of working for you. It’s time to change that.
Congress isn’t working
Our campaign-finance laws are woefully out of date, written long before average Americans could donate online, with smartphones or through political organizations like super PACs. Congress has refused to update our laws, and as a result, enormous sums of money have seeped into the political system. Now, money plays an outsized role in our government — from the moment they begin their term, members of Congress are expected to spend hours each day on the phone with wealthy donors raising money for their next campaign. The more than one-million hours members of Congress spend fundraising every cycle is time they don’t dedicate to developing issue expertise, building relationships with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle or even drafting policy, much less debating and voting on it. Our elected officials aren’t working for the people because they’re hardly governing at all.
More money is spent lobbying Congress ($3 billion) than is spent running Congress ($2 billion).
Washington is picking winners and losers
Crony capitalism is easy to understand: Through lobbying and campaign contributions, special interests persuade lawmakers to tilt the economic playing field in their favor — and the American people pay the bill. The way we finance our elections provides the fuel for cronyism, as many special interests vie to win the access and influence that produces valuable government contracts, tax breaks and regulatory loopholes. When our government is bogged down by special-interest money, our free market economy suffers — and that means everyday Americans struggle to afford the medicines they need, heat their homes, start their own businesses and more. It’s a bipartisan problem that deserves bipartisan solutions.
100 > 2,000,000
During the 2016 election, the top 100 campaign donors contributed more than the two million smallest contributors.
More speech is better for democracy
Our current money-in-politics system discourages people from participating. Instead, it should incentivize more Americans from all political persuasions to get involved, speak their minds, invest in candidates they believe in or run for office themselves. An overwhelming 93 percent of Americans say their views are left out of the political process. The result is less speech — it’s fewer voices in the marketplace of ideas, which damages the long-term health of our democracy. If we’re going to tackle our biggest challenges, we need to hear every idea at the table, but right now our system has more people tuning out than tuning in.
7 out of 10
Seven out of 10 Americans believe democracy is at risk if we don’t act now.
Right or Left: Americans want action now
Polling shows that Americans across the political spectrum believe we must take decisive action to return government to the people. Seven in 10 Americans believe that if we don’t act now, our democracy is at risk of failure. Reducing the influence of money in politics was a top five issue for voters in the 2016 election, and 78 percent believe we need sweeping new laws to address the crisis. More than 80 percent believe the problem is worse than ever before. Public opinion on this topic could not be more clear — if our government continues to work for the few, and not the many, the future of advanced democracy is in jeopardy. Outside of Washington, this is not a partisan issue.
We can fix this
A majority of Americans want the parties to work together to return government to the people.
Making government work for the people is Issue One
The good news is that we can fix this problem. We know that there are solutions that work — in fact, there are solutions that are already working in cities and states across the country. We may disagree about specific policies, but together, we have the opportunity to be a part of a long history of perfecting our union and expanding our right to free speech. Our country can only thrive when everyone’s ideas are heard — so our goal isn’t to get money out of politics, but to empower more people to speak their minds and add more voices to the marketplace of ideas. It is the responsibility of all Americans — not just one political party — to come together and present a strong, healthy and functioning democracy to the world.