American democracy is based upon the fundamental principle of one person, one vote—the simple notion that we are all equal before the law and should have an equal say over the government decisions that affect our lives.
American democracy is based upon the fundamental principle of one person, one vote—the simple notion that we are all equal before the law and should have an equal say over the government decisions that affect our lives. But unfortunately our system often more closely resembles one dollar, one vote as wealthy donors enjoy vastly disproportionate influence over who runs for office, who wins elections, and what issues make it onto the agenda in Washington, DC. This threatens the integrity and legitimacy of our democracy, as ordinary citizens come to the justified conclusion that the system is rigged and their voices are being drowned out in a sea of campaign cash.
We must reduce the undue influence of wealthy donors by amplifying the voices of all Americans. The Government By the People Act increases the power of the small contributions that ordinary citizens can afford to give, providing incentives for congressional candidates to reach out to average constituents, not just dial for dollars from wealthy donors. It’s the single best policy we can immediately enact to democratize the influence of money in politics. Though the Supreme Court, in a long line of cases from Buckley v. Valeo to Citizens United v. FEC, has tied the People’s hands, blocking us from enforcing common-sense limits on the use of big money in politics, we remain free to tackle the problem from the other side of the equation—providing incentives to bring more small donors into the system.
The Government By the People Act has four key provisions:
Creates the Freedom from Influence Fund to match contributions of up to $150 to participating candidates 6-to-1 or more;
Provides a $25 refundable tax credit for small contributions;
Provides enhanced matching funds in the final 60 days of a general election for candidates in high-cost races (because of an onslaught of outside spending, for example); and
Creates People PACs, or small donor committees, that aggregate the voices and power of ordinary citizens rather than wealthy donors (as traditional PACs tend to do).
We need a government of, by, and for the people, not bought and paid for by wealthy donors. This proposal puts the U.S. Congress back in the hands of ordinary Americans.