In Support of Delaware SCR 6 to Address the Corrupting Influence of Money in Politics

I’m a small business owner in Wilmington. I have a background in software design and development, and today I want to speak to you as a designer and developer. I’d like to talk about corruption.

Unlike many others on my side of the issue of money in politics, the word “corruption,” to me, isn’t attached to any moral judgment. There are many on my side who rail against “corrupt politicians in Washington.” Well, I know politicians. In my experience, they’re generally good people, doing their best, engaged in public service, and they want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

In software, if a file gets corrupted or an application causes a memory leak that crashes a system, it’s not because of some moral failing or because the process is “greedy.” It’s a design problem. There’s something broken in the code that needs to be fixed. Today, money has corrupted our political system to an extent that it is nearly impossible to repair.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama raised and spent over 1 billion dollars each in 2012, and in the 2016 election, that number is expected to double. There is an even greater amount of dark money flowing into elections from special interest PACs who are not even obligated to disclose where their money comes from.

This is a design problem.

Our elected officials at the national level are forced to spend more than 50% of their time raising money. A congressional campaign can cost more than 1 million dollars. Senatorial campaigns can run 10 or 15 million dollars. A sitting Senator needs to raise more than $10,000 per week for her entire six-year term just to fund her reelection campaign.

This is a design problem.

In addition to creating webs of complicated interests, alliances, and promises, our representatives are spending more than half of their time raising money. They have to do this because the candidate in a race who has more money wins 95% of the time. I’ll repeat that: 95% of the time, the candidate with more money wins.

This is a design problem.

Luckily, our founding fathers, when drafting the framework for our laws, left a brilliant way for the states to step in when the Congress has failed us. Article V of our constitution is why there’s still hope.

The most stunning discovery I’ve made since getting involved in this issue is that, among the political class, there really doesn’t seem to be a great sense of emergency. The job of a representative in our country has become “full-time fundraiser, part-time legislator.” If you care about our democratic system of government at all, you need to understand that this is an unprecedented, cataclysmic disaster. This is an emergency of the highest order.

How long will it be before a small campaign for a seat in the Delaware legislature will require raising, say, $200,000, and having equal support of whichever three super-PACs happen to have interests in our small state at the time? Before you dismiss this as hyperbole, consider that every day, distinguished members of the United States Senate spend five to seven hours in a phone bank, dialing for dollars. In fact, this is not an outlandish prediction. It’s a foregone conclusion. It’s the natural evolution of the way our government currently works.

We need to fix this bug before the system completely crashes and our states are swept away in the same sea of money that has flooded our federal government. I urge you to vote yes on SCR 6.

posted Wednesday, May 13, 2015