>Video/Discussion on Fair Elections
>The recent success of the Clean Elections laws that were implemented in
>Arizona and Maine this past election cycle are told in the video "The Road
>to Clean Elections." Narrated by Bill Moyers, the video features candidates
>on the campaign trail, lively testimonials by candidates who ran for office
>under the voluntary public financing system, and assessments of how the
>system worked by campaign finance reform experts and activists.
>After the video, several longtime TASC members who follow the issue of
>campaign finance reform will lead a discussion on this topic. Information
>will be available on ways to get involved with local efforts to put a voluntary
>public financing system in place. Visit www.fairelections.us (Northern CA)
>or www.publicampaign.org (National) for more information.
David Wilkie began his presentation by explaining that in his many years on the East Coast he had learned that everything is corrupt. If you want your building inspected, you have to bribe the inspectors. If you want police services, you need to pay the price. He summed it up by saying "the difference between a 'bribe' and a 'campaign contribution' is five syllables."
Then he said clean campaigns are the answer to this problem. He explained that clean money means that once a candidate has raised a certain amount in small donations, that person gets state money to allow them to reach the voters of the district with their message. The money is enough to get them above the threshold where the media can ignore them "because there isn't any there there" as the saying goes.
After that he showed a Bill Moyers video where candidates that had met the requirements for clean money could be seen campaigning at a grass roots level for votes. Many people gave glowing testimonials from both Maine and Arizona, the two states where Clean Money campaigns are a reality. There was also footage of a new class of legislators in Maine, a third of whom were clean money candidates. Moyers made clean money sound like a great thing.
Following that, we had Q&A, when we learned that the national clean money campaign leadership is not really interested in contesting California right now, because of the huge nature of the state, and the large amounts of money involved in getting something on the ballot here. Because of that, the effort here is being led by Grass Roots Californians. There is another group doing similar work in Southern California.
One of the most memorable comments during the Q&A came from a woman who said she was an activist with the ACM in Washington, DC for a while. She talked a bit about how hard it is to get any new idea heard in Washington, and then said "There are two scientists in Congress, and both of them are in the House of Representatives. Both of them have physics backgrounds. One of them is a Republican, and the other one is a Democrat." She also said some stuff about unreasonable expectations that the Congress in general tends to have on things outside their areas of expertise.
David finished by saying that they are always looking for groups to present their ideas to. Anybody with a group that would like to hear about cleaning the corruption out of politics is invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you want a copy of the handout, tell me where to mail it.