In addition to selecting party nominees today, Californians will also decide on several ballot measures. One of them is Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act. It would be one small step toward reducing the power of corporations in politics by providing for voluntary public financing of elections.
Prop. 15 would place a modest registration fee on state lobbyists, and use the money to provide voluntary public financing for Secretary of State candidates who are able to meet a threshold of small donations. Perhaps more important, it would repeal a restriction that currently prevents the state legislature and local municipalities from passing any laws on public financing. If the limited public financing of Secretary of State races works out, Prop. 15 would also make it easier for the state legislature to expand it to more elections.
This alone is not the solution to the corrupting influence of big donations on politics. It’s a very modest step in the right direction. Ideally, robust voluntary public financing of all elections will allow candidates to make a viable run for office without needing to spend several hours each day begging rich donors and corporations. This would reduce the influence of deep-pocket special interests and result in more legislation to help regular Americans.
That is why several progressive organizationssupport the measure, such as Credo, Courage Campaign, DFA, Moveon.org, California NAACP and Health Care For All-California, as well as politicians like Alan Grayson. Not surprisingly, the dominant donor in opposition is the California Chamber of Commerce. The big corporate interests clearly don't feel like giving up even a small amount of their political power.
So if you live in California, don't forget to vote, even if your local ballot does not include a contested primary. You have an opportunity to take a small step to reduce the political power of corporations and very wealthy individuals.
Today is Election Day! If you live in one of the 11 states with a primary today (California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Arkansas), don't forget to go to the polls.