Two weeks ago, America's first "honest politician" Gil Fulbright announced his bid for the White House. Fulbright is a satirical candidate cashing in on the flood of money in politics by doing whatever his donors want. More than two million people have watched his hilarious announcement video, and his crowdfunding campaign has brought in nearly $50,000.
Honest Gil's campaign is catching fire because people are disgusted with massive spending that makes a mockery of our democracy. 2016 is projected to be the most expensive federal elections in U.S. history, with some predicting that it could cost as much as $10 billion. Yes, billion.
In his first Honest Political Ad, Gil levels with the public:
"Ideas, policies, morals. These are things I don't need, what I need is $2 billion."
Gil's presidential campaign has been covered by USA Today, TIME, Politico, The Washington Post, and more than 100 other media outlets. It's a combination of humor and sad truths that is striking a chord. Gil's 5-step plan "to make America better" concludes with a pledge to "break all my promises to you and work tirelessly for the big donors that bought my presidency" once elected.
It's a funny take on a very real problem backed by real data. A 2014 Princeton University study comparing policy outcomes based on 20 years of public opinion data found that "the preferences of the average American (bottom 90% of earners) appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." This should be troubling to every American, but it is especially disturbing when you examine the behaviors that are routinely practiced in Congress.
It is perfectly legal for politicians to take money from interests they regulate. An elected official who sits on the Financial Services Committee can accept campaign contributions from the very banks that they oversee. But it doesn't stop there: it's also legal for our politicians to take lucrative jobs with lobbying firms soonafter leaving office. The power of money is so pervasive that lobbyists routinely write entire sections of legislation.
Yet despite all of this, money-in-politics corruption is still rarely a topic for discussion. In the two Republican debates thus far, candidates have not faced a single direct question about how they plan to address the legalized corruption that has gripped our political process.
That's why Honest Gil Fulbright is so powerful. He's highlighting one of the most critical issues of our time and drawing a lot of attention to the growing movement to fix it. Gil's candidacy was cooked up by the Represent.Us campaign, which is working to pass local and state laws based on model legislation called the American Anti-Corruption Act. These laws aim to achieve three things: stop political bribery, end secret money, and give every voter a voice.
It's a big task to be sure, but the anti-corruption movement is already achieving victories. America's first Anti-Corruption Act passed in Tallahassee, Florida last November. Important reforms are on the ballot in Seattle and the state of Maine. And there are plans to advance several statewide ballot initiatives in 2016. If we want to keep the victories coming, we'll have to keep using unconventional tactics -- like Honest Gil -- to reach new audiences and bring passionate new supporters into the movement.
So here's to you, Gil. A heaping dose of honesty is exactly what the 2016 race needs.
If you'd like to see more of Honest Gil Fulbright, head over to his IndieGoGo page.