Dear Mr. President,
From the heartlands of America to our city centers, there are too many folks who don’t believe our system works. When citizens are under-served by their leaders, an apathy is fostered that enables corruption and prevents accountability. Despite the historic struggle to vote, the dream of democratic elections is at risk when the public does not take voting seriously. In cities, states and at the national level, campaigns have become a cynical game that shuns voters, and lets those with millions to spare dominate the debate and decide who runs. This has to change.
I have been inspired by the people I have met across the country who are working hard in their community to limit the influence of money in politics. They have told me in one way or another how they came to realize that until we reform how money is spent in elections, we can’t confront the biggest problems facing us. And while the Supreme Court continues to disdain campaign finance regulation, the populist movement that has grown in response to the Citizens United decision has enacted some form of response to that decision in nearly all 50 states. There still needs to be a national remedy, and while you have voiced support for a constitutional amendment, there is a singular action that you can take right now to help restore public faith in elections and combat corrosive influences.
While Congress remains intractable over the most basic duties, it does not change the fact that our time is running out. From our environment to our infrastructure, from the care for our elderly to the education of our children, decisive action is needed to pull the curtain back on election spending. Americans have a right to see for themselves which contractors are getting paid with their tax dollars — and if those tax dollars are going back into political spending. Americans deserve a moment of truth.
We need an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. This step toward reducing dark money in our democracy is an important move to empower citizens, to let folks learn and be able to inform others. Elections are supposed to be a debate over the truth, yet too often it becomes about the loudest message. At least allow citizens the opportunity to look behind that message.
I am a father adding my voice to over 50 groups that have joined together to stress the urgency of this executive order, all non-partisan advocates for fair elections and civic engagement. Let Americans see if their democracy is being abused to return favors. Let the money that is driving the debate be subject to debate itself.
For too long, campaigns have been a spectacle that turns off most of the country from voting. If we are to continue the vision that our forefathers set forth as an alternative to oligarchy, it demands eternal vigilance. We can end the Pay to Play System. But now is the time to act.
Thank you for all you do,
John Wellington Ennis
First published at Huffington Post. John Wellington Ennis is the director of Pay 2 Play.
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