This story in today’s Globe reminded me of how disappointed I am that ALL the statewide Democratic candidates are ignoring the corrupting influence of money in politics today. I’ve gone to a few Democratic events and have heard the stump speech of all the Gov; Lt Gov, Sec of State candidates. NOT ONE OF THEM brought up the subject of trying to get money out of politics in their stump speech, never mind offer solutions. Sure, if someone asked a question about it, the issue gets the prerequisite lip service that the level of money in politics is “bad” but that’s about it.
Yes, given the middle finger the Legislature gave the people of Massachusetts twenty years ago by effectively overriding public financing of campaigns (yes, we do have a microscopic level of public financing available for statewide candidates, it is more symbolic than anything) perhaps we can’t blame them. Or perhaps it is a reflection of the weakness among this crop of candidates…because the problem of money in politics has exponentially grown in the last twenty years and the need for real reforms have never been more evident.
And we need to only look at our neighboring state of Connecticut or nearby Maine as examples of modern day public financing that works. Each state requires candidates to raise a nominal amount of money–to show they have genuine support and are “real” candidates. In Maine candidates for Gov. have to recruit 3,200 donors to give $5 or more and they qualify for $1 million in campaign funding. But that’s all they can spend and that is all they can raise. In Connecticut, candidates for State Rep must raise $5,000 from at least 300 residents from their district and they are eligible for $11,000 in the primary and nearly $29,000 in the general.
But as a long-time Democrat, I’ve heard nothing pro-active from the candidates running for my party’s nomination about this issue and I’m disappointed. But in many ways, I have to give these candidates a pass. Because I haven’t heard a lot about this issue from the activists either. While I’m not a 3 times a day BlueMassGroup reader like I used to be, I still frequently visit and I’ve seen nothing here from the commenters/posters. It is seldom brought up as a question in the candidate forums / Democratic breakfasts that I’ve gone to. I’ve also gone to a number of Indivisible meetings and I’ve heard lots of complaints about the Koch Brothers buying election or how Trump is for sale…but nothing about doing something locally to address the issue. And while I’m not privy to the questions sent out by various progressive groups, the silence I hear on this issue leads me to believe it is not a high priority with them either.
I’m sure I’ll get comments about this group having the question on their candidate questionnaire; or that candidate advocating for a CT or ME like plan. I have no doubt that this issue has been part of the mix. But for us to solve the problems Massachusetts faces, reforming money in politics has to be front and center. It has to be a key cornerstone of a candidates platform. We need urgency with this issue. But sadly there is no urgency.
Frankly, we won’t be able to address the many problems we face, because money alters the equation every single time. The Probation scandal is but one example. How do we help those being supervised for criminal behavior, with the goal of getting them back on the “right track”, when hiring was determined by campaign donations? How can we address critical public policy issues when big campaign donors and fundraisers “coincidentally” are awarded contracts or have sway over key pubic policy issues?
Never mind the fact that, in a time of overall cynicism about politics, this is a great campaign issue to run on! (So I’ll throw the “political consultant” class under the bus also for professional malpractice for ignoring an obvious issue to run on.)
So, count me as a Massachusetts Democrat that is greatly disappointed with both the candidates AND progressive activists who at best pay lip service to this issue and at worst think the status quo is just fine. We have meet the enemy…