I did not win the election. But then again I wasn’t expected to. I am not so bothered by the results of my race as I am by the total collapse of the Democratic Party in this election. So many hopes and dreams. I don’t even know how to describe my reaction to the reality of a Trump Presidency. Incredulous, shock, curious, dread, and even a little glimmer of hope. The hope comes from a strange place. The hope comes from the thought that Trump has just been playing the part of a candidate. Just like he played the part of a businessman on his TV show. And now maybe he will play the part of a President. Like Reagan did. Maybe he will surprise me and be a good President. May God help us if he stays true to his candidate persona.
For myself, I am going to take some time off. We are going to visit family and enjoy Thanksgiving without a thought of elections and campaigns and fundraising.
Fundraising…We did a pretty good job of fundraising for this kind of campaign. Due to the generosity of family and friends, we raised the second highest amount of non-PAC money in the state. But there is the rub. PAC money can play a huge role even in these small races. Because of the work we put in knocking doors and getting our message out we were leading in the early voting exit polls. Then my opponent spent $400,000 on radio and TV ads in just the last two weeks of the race. Several other PACs ran ads for him too. They spent more in one day than I spent the entire year. There was no way that I could compete. There was no way that I could get my message through to the voters to the degree that he could with all of that money. It wasn’t the ideas and policy proposals that lost the election for me, it was the disparity of money. In areas where people knew me, I won with almost a 2-1 margin. It was this experience that galvanized in me an idea that I have had for decades.
I have always thought that private funding of elections gave an advantage to the wealthiest few at the disadvantage of the rest of the population. It is clear to me that money is not free speech. In fact, it inhibits free speech by allowing a few people with media access and funds to drown out the voices of the many. I am thinking about making election finance reform be my next Quixotic adventure. I want to see an event in the not–too-distant future where fifteen million people converge on Washington DC in a massive peaceful demonstration. I want to see them fill the National Mall and surround the Capital Building and the White House and make a million phone calls an hour to the Senate switchboard for days on end until the government submits to the will of the people and passes a Constitutional Amendment banning private funding of elections. In doing so, they will return our nation to a government by and for the people. It is clear that nothing short of this kind of action will get Congress to act because it is so controlled by special interests and big money.
So, I am going to work on building a coalition of people, Bernie people, Trump people, Occupy people, etc. to make this dream happen. Join me if you can. This is the single most important issue in our nation and nobody in either party is talking about it because they are tied to the very money that is killing the democracy. It has to be an independent laser-focused movement. The parties won’t help, the incumbents won’t help. We have to rise up and do it or accept that democracy in America is dead.