As Tuesday’s primaries showed, a few candidates might ascend in a system stacked against them, but many more are left behind. Underserved populations lose when financial barriers limit their choices at the ballot, because the people who represent their priorities are effectively shut out of the political process.
Excerpt from Rewire.News:
If 2018 does indeed spawn a new generation of diverse, justice-minded politicians, we should press them for structural changes. Publicly-financed elections compel candidates to rely on their voters, not just on donor networks. Some states and jurisdictions have tried and succeeded: When Arizona and New York City instituted systems of public financing, racial diversity among candidates shot up. Ninety percent of participating candidates in New York City said they were more likely to look to their constituents for financial support. “Without public financing, I would not have been a viable candidate,” said Gary A. Winfield, a state senator from Connecticut, in a Brennan Center survey.
And even with the option of a democratized funding program, voters would benefit from transparency in the form of stricter disclosure laws. If candidates can receive unlimited money from vaguely-named “dark money” nonprofits, like Newt Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership or the Democratic Governors’ Association-linked America Works, voters should know which large donors or companies are attempting to sway them with advertisements. New Mexicoand California have recently passed disclosure regulations to this effect.
Still, in many states, lawmakers actively protect wealthy special interests. This is predictable: If a seat at the table costs millions, those at the table have real motives to avoid discussing the racial wealth gap. If voters and watchdogs lose sight of money’s role in politics, other reform efforts will continue to sputter.
Finance reports show Jones indeed out-raised her opponents in the Democratic primary. But it doesn’t end with her: When “good people say they can’t step up because they don’t have the resources,” she said, “something is fundamentally wrong.”