One of Mahatma Ghandi's best known sayings is: "Be the change that you want to see in the world," and Andrew Romanoff is the only candidate in Colorado's U.S. Senate race thus far who embodies that saying. Democrats in Colorado are seeking to do more than just take a refill of our incumbent on the rocks--people want that hope and change tonic that President Obama himself reminded us to demand.
At the State Assembly in Broomfield Romanoff earned 60.4 percent of the delegate votes, leaving incumbent Michael Bennet with just enough to get second place on the ballot. By refusing to accept PAC money, he lives up to the principles of government accountability and has gained loyal reserves of trust among Coloradans that cannot be bought. After all, if money can't buy happiness, then why should it be buying votes?
The banks have been insuring themselves by stocking up on Congressional derivatives--that is, saturating favored politicians with special interest funds and streamlining their expectations. Effectively, you could say, they found a way to buy happiness for themselves.
At the same time our Supreme Court says corporate campaign finance is constitutional, Wall Street entities like Goldman Sachs were engaging in fraud, and the average American voter began calling for reform. And do you think we're going to get it by investing ourselves deeper in pools of senators who continue to be bought?
Why, with a Democratic Congressional majority, did the public option die? By now it's a safe bet to assume that it simply flatlined beneath the same allowance keeping fraud and dishonesty afloat: PAC money.
If our sitting senator truly wanted the public option, why didn't he push for it? Of the $1.2 million in PAC money received by Senator Bennet, about 10% was from special interest funds representing the health insurance committees, the oil industry, and banks. Jane Norton has also accepted funds from those same types of committees, and some of them were even the exact same PACs. Help me understand how there can be such fundamental differences between these two candidates, if their sources of funding are so similar?
As one of Andrew Romanoff's delegates, the thing that strikes me most is the undaunted certainty and confidence his supporters have, and are able to maintain while supporting him. Instead of just talking about campaign finance reform, he is actually campaigning on a platform of that idealized reform. On Monday after the assembly, he appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, saying he will not be accepting PAC money even after winning the nomination.
If we are serious about wanting accountable politicians, this is it. The undercurrent grasping the country right now is beginning to pull out the rug from under the status quo, and Andrew's not the only one pulling it either.
Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett is gearing up to challenge Attorney General John Suthers, and has announced that he also won't be taking any money from PAC's. "The people of this state need an Attorney General who is beholden to no special interests, and it is important to eliminate even the appearance that my priorities might be influenced by deep-pocketed corporate donors," Garnett said, following Romanoff's example.
Royalties are for the pocketbook, not loyalties. Do you think the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision can be dismantled without being challenged by civilians? And what kind of message are we sending to Washington if we don't challenge that decision, and we keep voting for senators who lock away their promises in a safety deposit box on Wall Street?
While Americans have been watching the economy plummet and listening to the bitter arguments tube-feeding the health care debate, the ugliness of money's influence in Washington has been rising darkly to the surface like BP's oil spill; and if the government is coated in that much slick, how is it ever going to ascend to our aspirations? Accountability demands regulations, and that is why incumbents are being threatened.
If Andrew wins the election without any of the corporate weighted cash, civilian votes in Colorado can carry their full weight onto the national level again. Colorado would be proof for the country that Americans can hope to send a senator to Washington independent of corporate backing. If the economy has taught us anything, it's that "too big to fail" doesn't mean zero failures.
The public's consensus on Washington largely agrees that good policies are drowning in too much money and greed, but the only candidate in Colorado's senate race who is refusing to accept that by his own example is Andrew Romanoff. He is alone in demanding we take the road less traveled by, and as poet Robert Frost said, "that has made all the difference."
If voters want principles injected into Washington, then we have to vote that principled candidate in.
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