Our framers gave us a "representative democracy" – what they called, "a Republic." But that Republic was to be representative of all of us. Congress, as Madison said, was to be "dependent on the People alone." And by "the People," as he explained in Federalist 52, he meant "not the rich, more than the poor."
We have allowed Congress to betray this fundamental commitment. We don’t have a representative branch “dependent on the People alone.” Instead, we have a Congress “dependent on their funders” as well as “on the people.”
That dependency produces a government obsessed with the interests of “the rich more than the poor” – since obviously the rich are the funders. Less than 2% of America gave anything to any political campaign last year. The top 100 gave as much as the bottom 4.75 million.
The Problem: Election Funding
This is the root problem in America's democracy: how we fund campaigns. We have outsourced the funding of campaigns to the tiniest fraction of the 1%–dominated by cronies and special interests–and by too many who care too little about the good of America as a whole. That system for funding campaigns produces a Congress dominated by and dependent on interests that don’t represent America. That dependence is a corruption.
We need to change the way campaigns are funded to end this corruption. We need a system in which all of us – and not just the interested few – fund campaigns, so we can have a Congress dependent on all of us, and not, in Madison’s words, “the rich more than the poor.”
The Solution: Different Election Funding
We are launching a project to recruit Americans across the country to help convince members of Congress to be the leaders they were elected to be – by supporting fundamental reform of the way campaigns are funded.
That sounds like an impossible task. But the solution is actually quite simple.
Right now, members of Congress must raise huge sums of money to win elections. And that requires spending 30–70% of their time raising money from wealthy donors and special interests. The incentives are clear: more money = higher chance of getting elected. And more money comes from pleasing their donors, creating a system of cronyism.
To fix this, we need to change from whom our representatives are raising their money – and with that change, we will change how they raise their money. That change will require legislation – just legislation. A statute, requiring just a majority in Congress to enact it.
The Challenge: A Congress Committed to Reform
We are asking members of Congress to become #Leaders4Reform, by cosponsoring legislation that will reverse the corrupting influence of money on our elections.
We have identified five proposals that would fundamentally change how campaigns are funded. These include two Republican proposals, two Democratic proposals, and one that was crafted with advice from both sides. (You can see all five at RepsWith.US).
Earlier this year, you helped us identify 43 potential #Leaders4Reform who could be the key to unlocking a pro-reform Congress in 2016. We know 43 is not the 66 we ultimately need. But the truth is, we won’t have all 66 with us by the end of this year. We want to focus our energy and resources on potential leaders you helped identify, and urge those members to support reform. Our aim is to close the gap enough this year so that we’re in striking distance of having a pro-reform majority in Congress by 2016.
The Mayday Lab: Getting a Congress committed to Reform
Our campaign is an experiment in bringing about change with the most effective means of persuasion: your voice. We are organizing grassroots campaigns to show members of Congress that the right thing for America is also the right thing for their political future. We want them to be leaders, and we’re going to give them every incentive we can–both positive and negative–to be come leaders.
As we experiment, we will double-down on what works and let go of what doesn't. Volunteers and supporters--the People--will play a vital role in creating a Congress committed to reform. And we are eager to hear from you about how to make this effort a success.
In 2015, Mayday will focus on generating support for reform within the Congress we already have. As the 2016 election approaches, we will explore the most effective means for Mayday to make a difference. The ultimate purpose of this activity is to elect pro-reform leaders to Congress next year.
We are counting on you to help get our democracy back. Please sign up to take action and spread the word to your friends and family. Too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines.
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