Democratic Candidate Kirsten Kennedy (MN-08), on the problem of money in our politics, and what we should do about it.
The majority of Americans want big money out of politics, so do I. We’ve wanted it for a very long time. Candidates since 2010 have pledged to end Citizens United, yet it’s still here. So we get races that run into the tens of millions of dollars and candidates that are “viable” – meaning only the best fundraisers, wealthiest, well connected need apply.
Many elected officials are beholden to their large donors, which translates into policy that benefits the special interests of the wealthy 1% while the majority of Americans – Native Americans, lifelong residents, refugees, immigrants – remain uncared for, unheard, struggling and gasping for air in our immoral, unjust economy.
In the past 40 years, we have digressed far from post-Watergate legislation passed to decrease big donor influence and increase transparency in politics. Those safeguards have been gutted by court decisions, such as Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, and have enabled the wealthiest people and largest corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to campaigns, including Minnesota’s CD8 race.
So we often fail to elect leaders who will best represent all interests and pass laws that best serve all needs. Instead, we are electing officials obligated to the self-serving interests of big or dark money – it’s a vicious cycle.
As a candidate and as your Congresswoman, I have pledged to work to end Citizens’ United. To even get a seat at the table, I’ve been told that I have to raise millions of dollars to be viable or get contributions from major national groups, who share my values. The reality is: we don’t have millions of dollars, we’re still here, and I am working everyday to make a difference, just like I have my entire life.
Time’s up for elections where only the wealthy are able to run for office to push legislation that only works for the wealthy. We need to elect leaders who not only hold as part of their platform a commitment to fighting for change and passing legislation to level the playing field, but perhaps those who also “walk the walk” and have proven their refusal to be funded by big donors, lobbyists, and corporate SuperPACs – groups that want America to go back to a time that never existed. We need leaders driven by the needs of all people and not by money. We need leaders who understand what life really looks like for the common American.
My name is Kirsten Kennedy. I work two full-time jobs, I’m a single mom, and I’m running for Congress. I believe in publicly funded elections and a short election cycle, where candidates talk about their policies, their values, and their vision. I believe in a government that levels the playing field so all people have an opportunity to serve, not just those that can raise millions of dollars. Most importantly, I believe, that together we can get it right.
Read more of Kirsten’s blog posts at her DemHub homepage!