Country Before Party: How Divided Political Parties Can Come Together Around the 28th Amendment
Congressional candidates from across the political spectrum share why they’re in favor of the 28th Amendment to end the undue influence of big money in politics.
We live in a nation that seems more divided than ever. But what part of that narrative is fact, and what part is fiction? While we often hear the media talk about our great divides, research shows the true beliefs of the American people live in the middle.
There is one issue on which we Americans are almost uniformly united: the issue of big money in politics. In polls, more than 80 percent of people agree that big money in politics is a problem we need to fix. Many elected officials and candidates do, too.
Here, we hear from three of these candidates—one independent, one Republican and one Democrat—about the importance of this issue. Bringing our country together will be a long road. That road starts with ensuring representation and respect to people of every income level, and eliminating the undue influence of big money from our political system with the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.
There’s a big myth in American politics. You know it well: America is divided. Pick a tribe.
It’s a powerful narrative. But the facts don’t support this partisan myth.
Pundits and politicians—for their own selfish purposes—insist upon division. When you drill down into policy specifics, rather than political identities, differences fade. “On most issues,” Stanford political scientist Morris Fiorina found, “attitudes continue to cluster in the middle rather than lump up on the extremes.”
One major problem that unites, rather than divides, is the undue power of money in politics. Ninety-two percent of Americans believe “the government is pretty much run by a few big interests.” Sadly, this opinion isn’t history’s greatest case of mass hysteria—Americans are right. According to a study from Princeton comparing 20 years of public opinion to policies enacted in law: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact.”
That’s a harsh finding. But don’t miss the silver lining: 92 percent of Americans agree that big money in our politics is a fundamental problem.
This consensus transcends party affiliation, and extends beyond mere identification of a problem—Americans also agree on the solution. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, 85 percent of Americans think “the country’s campaign finance system needs significant changes.”
It is true that our nation faces many other issues. But we must remember that a corrupt process cannot and will not produce optimal outcomes for the American people. True reform—rebalancing our politics—demands that we begin with campaign finance reform.
The meaning of such agreements—on the problem and solution—cannot be missed. It debunks the myth of division—and more. It reveals common ground for patriots from both sides who want to put country before party by taking big money out of politics.
We need to revise our political system so that voters—not big money—are the determining factor to who wins elections. More than 90% of elections are won by the person with the most money. And unfortunately, the money that enables a candidate to win almost always distances that candidate from the very people s/he is elected to serve. It’s easy not to develop a real message if you have money to hide behind, and that’s a shame.
I would love to see a system where a campaign cannot spend more than the salary of the position s/he is applying for. Today we often see candidates with $1 million in the coffers, spent on the election of positions that pay 1/5 that. With new rules, these campaigns would become all about the people—talking to as many voters as possible to personally get the message out there and what you want to do, rather than creating 30-second sound bites with no legitimate message.
As a person who has devoted his life to service in my community, I thought this is what our district needed—a person who thinks of others before he thinks of himself. Yet big money in politics has been an evident factor since I entered the race.
Unfortunately, money gets in the way of the message as many voters in our district think you just can’t beat the machine. It’s easy to become disenfranchised. I’ve been running my race with the resources available. Could you imagine the inventive ways people would be required to campaign with a limited budget? For the benefit of our entire nation, change is urgently needed, and it can’t come soon enough.
Ohioans know that our country is not on the right track. Our economy, our healthcare system, even our politics—none of it is working the way it’s supposed to. Our democratic traditions and institutions are under attack, truth and decency in government have been abandoned, and foreign adversaries are working hard to corrupt and destabilize our institutions.
Our democracy and the freedoms it guarantees are worth defending at all costs—and that starts with getting dark money out of politics, abolishing unfair and politically biased gerrymandered voting districts, and protecting voting rights. I will fight for real campaign finance reform. Big money is drowning out the voices of everyday Americans, and I believe we must have the necessary tools to fight back and safeguard our electoral and political integrity. My vision for American democracy is that all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process and have the ability to run for office without needing to depend on corporate contributions.