Shein Plans $2 Potluck Fundraiser
On Friday, first lady Michelle Obama will visit Western Massachusetts to attend a series of fundraisers for the president's re-election campaign. First is a $2,500-per-person event in Springfield. Then a James Taylor concert in Pittsfield, where the least expensive ticket goes for $125 (the most expensive is $10,000).
Finally, on Friday evening, Gov. Deval Patrick will host Mrs. Obama at a $20,000-per-person fundraiser at his Richmond estate. Twenty people will attend, and the event will raise $400,000. That's right: $400,000 from just 20 people.
That our Democratic Party and its candidates have come to rely so heavily on money from those who can afford such amounts, as well as large checks from the corporate PACs and lobbyists who represent interests we should be fighting against, is simply unacceptable. For too long, that money has narrowed the agenda in Washington, shifted policymaking to the right, and left us with a democracy, economy, and environment in crisis.
Over the last quarter-century, rank-and-file Democrats have been told by party leaders and longtime Democratic incumbents that our party needs to raise corporate money, and accept large checks from lobbyists and wealthy individuals, if we're to win elections.
But don't worry, we've been told, because all that money won't impact the Democratic Party's ability to stand up for working people, create a fair economy, do what's necessary on the environment, or advance the political reform that will make our democracy work for everyone.
Well, it hasn't turned out that way.
American democracy is rotting from the inside, drowning in corporate money, lobbyist money, and large checks from a tiny fraction of our society. Compared to other major democracies, voter participation here is shockingly low. Our economy is unfair, unjust, unworkable, and unsustainable. And on the environment, catastrophic climate change becomes more likely with each passing day, yet the massive action required to address it is not being discussed in this election year.
This way of doing things simply can't continue.
I'm running for Congress because we need Democrats who will speak out against this unacceptable status quo, and not offer the shrugs, excuses, and rationalizations so common among those incumbent Democrats who refuse to do anything to change it.
That's why on Friday evening I will host a few friends and supporters at my house for a "$2 Per Person Pot Luck Dinner for Democracy." Each attendee will bring a dish that serves four-to-six people, so we should be amply fed while discussing how to advance public financing of elections, universal voter registration, jobs programs to put unemployed Americans to work right now, a freeze on all foreclosures, increasing taxes on the wealthy and global corporations, and massive action on climate change that begins by passing the "Save Our Climate Act" to put a price on carbon pollution.
Of course, to raise $400,000 at just $2 per person would mean inviting 200,000 people to the modest house I rent in Alford. The last time we had that many people over (for the "Seinfeld" finale, maybe?) we were cleaning up for weeks. I vowed never to do that again. So this time we're keeping it small ...
While everyone understands the need to raise money for campaigns, it's long past time to elect Democrats who know we have to radically change our campaign-finance system. And fast. We simply can't continue down this road of a "democracy" funded substantially by a narrow, wealthy, and corporate elite – a problem that existed long before the Citizens United decision.
Indeed, we've already gone too far down that road. The results are painfully obvious to millions of struggling American families who lost jobs, homes, and retirement savings in the latest economic meltdown and who know the response from Washington has been wholly inadequate. They don't have $125 or $2,500 or $20,000 to donate to a political candidate.
In my view, ideas and candidates should sink or swim on the merits, not how much money is behind them. That's the promise of public financing of elections, and that's why I will champion that necessary reform, and many others, in the United States Congress.