One of the impressions a first time candidate is given is that PAC (Political Action Committee) financing is an essential part of their campaign. In 2006, after two trips to Washington, numerous letters to “Leadership PACs” and endless meetings, the grand total of PAC contributions made up less than 4% of the overall money raised. The first thing I decided after the campaign ended in 2006 was to not seek PAC money again.
One of the regrets I have in the last campaign is being suckered by other elected Democrats into their email-address-sucking contests where supporters of each candidate were encouraged to “vote” for their favorite candidate. These contests never yielded any results for the campaign, and they only got the people who cared about my election stuck on mailing lists they didn’t ask to be subscribed to.
Yet the PAC system is what incumbents thrive on. The percentages reverse for people who are already elected, where PAC money is the dominant form of financing for those who carry the water. Which is why I’m done with it. Although I’m sure there are legitimate PACs pushing valid interests, I think the system as a whole is wrong. It continues to perpetuate our cash infested broken democracy.
I support public financing. I believe it will take a constitutional amendment to implement public financing on a federal level. Until that is done, the playing field between incumbent and challenger will always be in favor of the former, and money will continue to imbalance governmental interest away from the majority of Americans. Russell Simmons presented one such proposal recently. I find it ironic that he is doing it, while the author of the amendment remains anonymous, but I think the initial text is good. It is time we pushed this forward.
Of course, until that amendment is passed, challengers still face an enormous uphill battle. I can use your help in that fight.