One of the only things that unites Americans is agreement that our republic is broken, and we need to take it back. For years I tried to do this from a political, partisan perspective — winning low-budget campaigns to enable Republicans to take over the Virginia legislature in the 1990s, then the Alabama legislature a decade later — with a massive effort to win over the faith-based vote for Bush-Cheney 2000.
My political efforts culminated when I launched Dave Brat’s upset of Majority Leader Eric Cantor — which put a great elected official in office but also made me realize we could not change the system one elected official at a time. Instead, we had to change the system.
I gave up campaigns to start a non-profit, non-partisan group, Take Back Our Republic.
I realized legitimately concerned Americans were calling for “campaign finance reform,” or to “drain the swamp.” We sometimes use different words for a common goal — stop the pay-for-play politics that crushes the average taxpayer.
This column will focus on how to take back our republic from the oligarchs from the left and right who simply want to translate their political contributions into massive returns at the cost of American taxpayers. It will discuss many tougher issues, such as balancing a need for disclosure so that we know who is cutting deals on Capitol Hill at the expense of taxpayers with ways to stop retribution against small donors who are giving for ideological reasons.
We want to encourage good First Amendment political giving while discouraging secret money that is intended to buy your tax dollars. Let’s start with two simple things which seem to get support across the spectrum:
- As I covered in a recent segment on Fox News, Americans should once again be able to keep the first $200 they were going to send the IRS and instead give it to a candidate who will be a good steward of the rest of their tax dollars. This can be accomplished during the tax reform effort by reinstating the tax credit that was in place through President Reagan’s re-election.
- We should unite in closing loopholes that make it easy for foreign interests to funnel large sums of money into our system to influence the government to back their interests over the American taxpayer. This effort can start by passing HR1341 and S1660, which close a loophole allowing for unverified credit card contributions, and then we can look at other avenues such as a foreign company setting up a P.O. Box in the U.S. in order to “out bid” U.S. companies in the race for political contributions.
Whether someone wears a “Make America Great Again” hat or attends a Bernie Sanders rally against multi-national corporations, they should agree on these basic goals as a starting point. These are first steps if we are serious about saving, and taking back our republic.
John Pudner is Executive Director of Takeback.org, a non-profit home for Americans seeking true political reform. Our conservative solutions include: stopping illicit foreign money from impacting elections; ending pay-to-play in government contracting; and restoring the Reagan-era federal tax credit for small-dollar political contributions, which will encourage more citizens to become donors and help re-balance the campaign finance system. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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