By Nadin Abbott / East County Magazine / Jan. 15, 2012
On Thursday January 11th, 2012 Mr. Derek Casady of La Jolla brought a proposal for the June Ballot allowing for voluntary public financing of elections in the City of San Diego. We are just starting to see the toxic effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision on our democracy. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could pour virtually unlimited amounts into funding campaigns for candidates and political initiatives, opening wide the floodgates for corruption and undue influence on public officials.
It is estimated that the Presidential election alone could run close to five billion dollars. A Congressional election runs into the millions, with the election of Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota last cycle breaking all records for the House at ten million dollars. U.S. Senators average five million dollars, and so it goes.
There is no way that our local elections are not affected, even if the amounts required are less. The cost to run for office in this city will only increase and there is the problem of favors that need to be paid later on. This closes down the access of the regular citizen to our elected officials. It also increases the level of perceived and perhaps real corruption.
While it is true that a City cannot overturn Citizens United, it can take steps to facilitate citizen participation by enacting a publicly funded system. This would allow regular people, who might lack the connections in high places, to run for office and serve the people. At the very least, the citizens of the City of San Diego should have a say on this. I urge the city to move this proposal to the June Ballot, where we the people can decide if we’d like to publicly fund our elections. Politicians will have the choice of whether to accept public funds and turn down corporate-backed donations, or rely on special interest money. Given that this is a voluntary system, it will assure that the door is not closed for regular citizens seeking to run for office.
Nadin Abbott holds a masters degree in history from San Diego State University. The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.