One week after NH Rebellion officially launched the We the People Pledge to fight big money in politics, Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed every major component of the Pledge, adding substance to his longstanding calls for ending big money corruption in Washington. The Sanders announcement follows months of direct engagement of all presidential candidates by members of the nonpartisan NH Rebellion and the release of similar plans by Sanders' Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley. It marks the first time in American history that every presidential candidate in a major political party has publicly committed to comprehensive campaign finance reform.
“Sen. Sanders' plan is a direct assault on the monied interests that are attempting to buy our elections and rob us of representation," said Daniel Weeks, director of the NH Rebellion. "We applaud the Senator for rejecting Super PAC support of his campaign, for speaking out against systemic corruption on the stump, and for today releasing a comprehensive plan to overhaul the big money system if elected president."
According to the campaign's newly-released position paper, "Getting Big Money Out of Politics and Restoring Democracy," Sen. Sanders will work to eliminate Super PACs and overturn Citizens United through new Supreme Court appointments and a constitutional amendment; fight for citizen-funded elections that amplifies small donations through public matching funds; insist on full transparency in the funding of campaigns and outside spending; and strengthen enforcement of campaign finance rules.
The plan also calls for an end to gerrymandering and improvements in voting and election administration such as automatic voter registration and a national Election Day holiday.
According to Weeks, the Sanders plan represents a major victory for the citizens Rebellion against big money in politics, which has so far mobilized hundreds of "rebels" to question the presidential candidates and march 30,000 miles collectively across NH in support of reform. "For the first time ever, every Democratic candidate for president has publicly committed to stopping the corrupting influence of big money in politics, and Republicans are starting to embrace solutions of their own," Weeks said.
In September and early October, respectively, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley presented their own reform agendas, consistent with the We the People Pledge, after consulting with NH Rebellion and other groups. And recent Democratic candidate Lawrence Lessig, a champion of the NH Rebellion, launched a presidential campaign solely focused on reforming money in politics.
Last Thursday, NH Rebellion officially launched the We the People Pledge with a rally in downtown Manchester and a march to deliver the parchment Pledges to the presidential campaign headquarters throughout the city, led by the Rebellion's own "Paul Revere". The agenda calls on candidates at all levels of government, beginning with the presidential candidates, to support six fundamental reforms deemed necessary by campaign finance experts to curb the outsized influence of wealthy special interests in government:
- Close loopholes and enforce campaign finance laws
- Expose secret donors and require full transparency
- Ban bribes from lobbyists and government contractors
- Ban Super PACs and overturn Citizens United
- Establish small-donor, citizen-funded elections
- End gerrymandering and modernize voter registration
In addition to the Democratic candidates' support, every Republican vying for president has also publicly acknowledged the need to fight big money, according to NH Rebellion's online tracker of candidate statements, Questionr.us. The solutions offered by Republican candidates to-date center on stricter disclosure requirements and lobbying restrictions, and a few Republican candidates have also expressed support for citizen-funded elections, overturning Citizens United, and nonpartisan redistricting reform.
“Big money politics is a bipartisan problem and it demands a bipartisan response,” said Brian Tilton, Republican outreach coordinator for the NH Rebellion. “Just as the Rebellion reached out to Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders to give input on their plans, we are also been in talks with several Republican contenders about conservative-friendly approaches to breaking the big money-big government nexus that has voters up in arms. Republicans recognize that crony capitalism and wasteful spending won't be stopped until voters regain the upper hand against wealthy special interests. We call on the remaining campaigns to answer our invitation and work with us on solutions to stop big money.”