Are you a boss, or do you want to be one? In America, we often forget that we, the people, are the bosses. As is asserted in the Declaration of Independence, our style of government derives its "just powers from the consent of the governed." We hire politicians: Elections. We pay politicians: Tax dollars. We then expect them to spend the vast majority of their time not just representing us, but studying problems and reaching across the aisle to pass legislation to fix the problems.
Unfortunately, this all sounds quaint to too many Washington insiders today. They know better. They know that politicians spend half their time raising money. Most of that money is raised from either wealthy people who don't live in the districts the members of Congress represent, or from lobbyists and donors who represent the industries members of Congress are supposed to be regulating, based on their committee assignments. On the Finance Committee? Raise money from the bank lobbyists.
Even my 11 year old son, who just completed a semester on the founding of the republic, gets that this is wrong. So do people inside the system, like Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) who, when asked about political fundraising, told the New York Times: "It's appalling, it's disgusting, it's wasteful, and it opens the possibility of conflicts of interest and corruption. It's unfortunately the world we live in."
What would happen if you transferred this world our public servants unfortunately live in to other industries? We at Issue One (the bipartisan reform group I head) made this video to play out the implications.
And what happens when the people who used to live in that world start standing up and speaking out about the need to change that world? I'm proud to announce that we're partnering with Ambassador Tim Roemer to create a strike force of former elected officials, from both parties, to do just that.
Tim -- who served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, was an instrumental member of the 9/11 Commission, and then was the U.S. ambassador to India -- has joined us as as senior strategic adviser to, among other things, head what we're calling the ReFormers Caucus. The ReFormers includes more than 60 Republican and Democratic former members of Congress and governors who are mobilizing to explain the governing crisis we are in and to advocate for solutions, like stronger disclosure and transparency so everyone knows where all this cash is coming from, and citizen-funding programs that ensures politicians' fealty is to their constituents.
As Tim recently told me: "Believe me, from my experience on the 9/11 Commission, I know there are a lot of threats in the world today, but one of the biggest concerns at home is this threat to our democracy, which prevents us from fixing the big problems our country faces."
The next election is expected to cost $10 billion, which is more than the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections-combined. It's more than the individual state budgets of Vermont, South Dakota, Delaware, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Maine, Iowa, Rhode Island, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, and Nebraska. Imagine how much time our members of Congress, plus the presidential candidates, will spend trying to assemble that amount of money.
No matter what side of the aisle you stand on, we can all agree that we need to overhaul this incredibly dysfunctional system. We hope you'll help spread the word, and join us -- including Tim and the ReFormers -- in intensifying the fight for reform. As we do, let's remember: We are the bosses. And we expect nothing less than 100% of our employees' time and loyalty.