To the Editor:
I’m sure that many Mainers have seen the idea online that “Congress should wear jackets like NASCAR drivers so we can know who bought them.” For everyday voters like me, who continue to feel increasingly marginalized as ever-more money pours into our political system, the idea couldn’t ring more true. That’s why this year I’m not sitting on the sidelines hoping change occurs. I’m putting my time and energy into ensuring change does happen by supporting Question 1 on November’s ballot.
Question 1 not only will increase transparency and accountability in our elections. It also will encourage strict campaign spending and contribution limits by strengthening Maine’s Clean Election system so that candidates can run for office without becoming beholden to wealthy special interests.
I’m an auto technician and shop owner. Like most Maine residents, I can’t write a massive campaign check or hire a high-priced lobbyist to ensure my voice is heard by politicians. I shouldn’t have to. We deserve a government that is of, by and for the people – not wealthy special interests and big money donors. I’m certain that most Mainers agree. That’s why it’s so important that we all get behind Question 1 on November’s ballot.
Though it won’t make politicians wear NASCAR jackets displaying the name of their high-dollar corporate donors, it will limit the influence big money has on Maine candidates by reforming our campaign finance system and increasing transparency.
It will require outside groups to list their top three funders on any ads they buy. This way, when the next election rolls around and your mail box, television and radio are flooded with nasty, misleading attack ads from secret groups, you’ll know where they really are coming from and who is paying for them. And if those secret big-money groups or any candidates don’t follow the law, Question 1 will increase fines and penalties so they are actually a deterrent to corruption and secret spending rather than merely a cost of doing business.
Most importantly, this referendum will allow candidates in Maine to run for office without having to depend on donations from wealthy special interests. This ensures that we can keep our representatives accountable to us and keep control of elections in the hands of voters.
There is no doubt the issues facing our election system and our democracy are overwhelming. And when we see that nearly $4 billion was spent across the country in the last election cycle alone, it’s hard not to get discouraged and feel that our voices will never be heard.
But this November, I truly believe that we can play a part in taking back our democracy and ensuring that control of our government is in the hands of the hard-working farmers, small business owners, teachers, firefighters and everyday people who make our state great. That’s why Question 1 on November’s ballot is so important.
We have an opportunity to create a government where everyone’s voice is heard and every politician is accountable; where people from all walks of life can run for and win office, not just the wealthy and friends of the wealthy; where elections are transparent; and where politicians play by common sense rules and are held accountable with enforceable penalties.
Now it’s our time to change things in Maine by sending a strong message to wealthy special interests and their lobbyists in Maine and across our country that voters want a government that is accountable to regular people. We have a chance to show the nation that a more perfect nation is possible and that we will fight for a more true democracy. It will happen with Maine people leading the way. It will happen by passing Question 1.
David A. White