“Congress can’t function on the great national issues of the day under the system we’ve got. The time is now to go to voluntary public funding.”- Alan Simpson
By US Senator Al Simpson (R-WY)
The people of Maine blazed a trail over ten years ago when they voted to establish a new way to elect their political leaders through the Clean Elections System. In the elections since, both Republicans and Democrats have embraced this approach to politics, as 80% of all Maine legislators have been elected by using the program and over 75% of the state’s voters approve of it. As a former U.S. Senator and co-chair of Americans for Campaign Reform, I applaud the people of Maine and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections for leading the effort to defend this important and proven program that puts voters in the driver’s seat of democracy.
I strongly support a small donor driven campaign finance reform for Congress and the presidency, an approach that expands speech and respects the first amendment by allowing more voices to be heard in our political process. Maine has led the way, providing an alternative to the obscene money chase that occupies countless hours and distracts candidates and legislators from the jobs they were elected to do.
Some political leaders in Maine cite the current financial difficulties that state government is facing as reason enough to reduce or even eliminate the funding for the program. This is so shortsighted. Unlike in most other states, lawmakers in Maine are not dependent upon lobbyists for campaign contributions. As a result, it provides qualified people from all walks of life to serve in the legislature without the usual ties to special interests, and allows more opportunity for issues to be considered on the merits – not with a perceived or real quid pro quo. For about $2 per person per year, Maine voters can be confident that candidates and elected officials answer to them, not wealthy donors and special interests. The Maine Clean Elections System puts citizens first, an investment in democracy that surely has paid dividends in responsive government.
Maine citizens of all political views have a shared interest in a government that is accountable, effective, transparent, and truly representative. The Clean Elections system is important not only because it has increased confidence in the operation of government in Maine, but stands as an inspiration to the nation. In this era of undisclosed campaign contributions and the undue influence of wealthy donors over our political process, successful alternatives that empower voters should be celebrated and strengthened, not challenged. The Maine Clean Elections system works.
Former US Senator Al Simpson (R-WY) is a co-chair of Americans for Campaign Reform