June 20, 2010
On the June 17 edition of “Countdown”, Keith Olbermann interviewed The Nation magazine’s Senior Editor, Chris Hays, in a segment about the Democratic Senate Primary in South Carolina. In the course of the conversation Hays pointed out that the only reason there has any attention paid to the surprise victory of Alvin Greene is because he had no money.
If you think about it, there is an implicit assumption in most discussions about Greene that money brings success in politics and most commentators seem bemused by election results where the candidate with the most campaign cash actually lost.
This is not a case of black vs white, as in complexion, but a matter of green, as in cash. It is disheartening to realize that the green of campaign dollars has so clouded our electoral system that we automatically assume that a candidate without access to gobs of cash will surely lose. Read the rest of this entry »
December 24, 2009
… paging William Shatner … where is “Captain Kirk” when he’s needed? (Putting hand over eyes and squinting into the distance) Hope he’s not too busy being “Priceline Negotiator” to take on this new role that exactly fits his talents. What new role, you might ask?
Well, I’ll tell you: a reprise of his Letterman appearance featuring bongos, a tall stool and black turtleneck sweater – but with a brand new script. Not that old Palin resignation stuff (that’s so last summer!). But a little rhyme by Gregg Levine over at FireDogLake.com about the health care reform spectacle in Congress. Levine does a masterful job of tying the corrupting power of money to the legislative process in the Capitol.
Since Shatner is not available right here and now, we’ll have to make do with making a mental YouTube (aka using our collective imagination) to make this happen. So visualize a black-turtlenecked Shatner propped against a tall stool on a darkened stage. The bongos start. Then Shatner begins reciting the following rhyme. Read the rest of this entry »
November 11, 2007
In a rare candid moment a U.S. Senator told a group of constituents that he wished he could spend more time on legislative matters — he felt he had to spend way too much time doing fundraising. So instead of being able to devote his attention to the job the voters had sent him to Washington to do, he had to allocate a significant chunk of time to dialing for dollars or attending fundraising events. This Senator said he would favor public financing of campaigns — so he could spend more time on lawmaking and less on seeking cash for the next campaign.
The good news is that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced S. 1285, a bill that looks like the dream bill for senators like the one described above who want to change the way Senate campaigns are financed. The Fair Elections Now Act is supported by a consortium made up of Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, Democracy Matters, the Public Campaign, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG.
While this seems to be a novel approach for U.S. Senate candidates, publicly financing of campaigns has been successfully deployed on the state level in Arizona and Maine and in municipalities like Portland, Oregon (where the catchy phrase “voter owned elections” is used to describe it). Read the rest of this entry »