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How to Make Politicians Listen to Us

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December 19, 2016

The 2016 election cycle was the most expensive election cycle in history with more than $6.6 billion dollars spent in the Presidential election. As of early November, more than $557 million has been spent in just 10 key Senate races. The majority of these funds came not from candidates or even the Democratic or Republican Party, but from outside organizations that don’t have any contribution limits, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions.Since 2015, members of Congress have spent more than 1,000,000 hours raising money.

The dollar amount of spending by third-party organizations that are required to identify their donors was $87 milllion, likely to increase when all the spending is counted.

Does this flood of money really matter? Absolutely. The voices of ordinary Americans, of working families are drowned out by these billions of dollars. Our voices are ignored by politicians who spend upwards of 50 percent of their time searching out and talking to big donors who can write the big checks.

The more politicians talk to the 1 percent, the less time they even think about the issues that are important to us, like keeping good jobs in our communities, workers’ rights, paid sick time and family leave, health care, and more.

We must change the way campaigns are financed and require politicians to engage with us, the voters in their states and congressional districts.

CWA and allies are pushing to advance small-donor campaign financing, like those already in place in New York City, Montgomery County, Md., Connecticut, Maine, and Seattle, among others. Small donor financing amplifies the voices of working men and women by matching their small contributions six times over.

That will change the way that candidates will respond to voters and to the issues we raise, because individual voter-contributors will make a difference in the campaign’s bottom line.

At the federal level, this will take a longer term effort.

This change already is happening at the city, county and state level (see Democracy Success Stories) and we will keep the pressure on as we restore a democracy that works for all of us.