Last week I posted at the Huffington Post, starting a dialogue about how to fight corruption in Congress. Hundreds of people wrote in with thoughtful comments, but almost everyone agreed on one main truth: that the political system is broken by too much money from special interests, and not enough influence for small-dollar donors.
Today I'm writing again to announce some big news. At Change Congress, we're launching a political "donor strike" where thousands of people pledge only to donate to politicians who support a system of public funding — plus Obama-style small-dollar donations — for congressional elections.
We call this "citizen-funded elections." The 2008 election proved the power of grassroots donations. Now's the time to turn that power into real change. We're giving Congress a choice: you can either have our money or money from special interests, but not both. We'll reward the reformers. But those who oppose reform won't get any money from us. Nada. Zip.
Already, the Associated Press has written a story about this donor strike. Can you help add to the momentum by taking the pledge today at this link? It will only take a minute.
Our pledge reads: "I'm pledging not to donate to any federal candidate unless they support legislation making congressional elections citizen-funded, not special-interest funded." You can sign it here.
Last night, I was on the Colbert Report and talked with Stephen Colbert about the corrupting influence of money on Congress. I then taped a special video from the Colbert green room announcing today's big news. You can watch it here or at the bottom of this post.
Last year, 10 senators (including Barack Obama) and nearly 60 House members co-sponsored the type of reform we're proposing. It's up to us to add to those numbers — and to get the backs of those who are fighting for change.
As Congress begins to debate the big issues of the day, we all have issues that we care about most. But progress will be blocked on every big issue until we solve the threshold problem: special interests having too much clout in our public debates. Especially with the economic crisis we face, it makes no sense for our elected leaders to spend their time begging for campaign contributions from the very special interests that got us into this mess.
Ironically, in these tough economic times, you can do your part to clean up the system by pledging to give nothing. Thousands of people pledging to give nothing will go a long way. Here's what some of our partners in the reform movement are saying about this new campaign:
DEMOCRACY MATTERS's Adonal Foyle: "As a professional basketball player, I am proud to pledge that I will donate only to candidates who support citizen-funded Congressional elections."
COMMON CAUSE's Bob Edgar: "If millions of small donors make it clear to Congress that they are serious about real reform now, that will make a huge difference in our ability to get Congress to do what more and more members are realizing they need to do: End their addiction to money from a handful of big donors, once and for all."
PUBLIC CITIZEN's David Arkush: "We're near a tipping point in Washington politics. Small donors made a huge impact in 2008, but unfortunately, big money still has more sway. Now small donors have a chance to change the pay-to-play system and have their voices heard."
U.S. PIRG's Lisa Gilbert: "In order to see change on critical issues like the economy and our healthcare system, we need a clean campaign funding system that allows regular voters to be heard by our politicians."
AMERICANS FOR CAMPAIGN REFORM's Dan Weeks: "What we're seeing is the small donor revolution starting to leverage its power on a broken Washington system."