Almost all of the campaign finance stories many of us have heard about lately have to do with super-PACs, billionaire casino moguls, and a debate about whether corporations are people. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) is taking leadership this year, however, to show that we can do better and start to put everyday people back in charge of our elections.
As we watch the federal campaign finance system move further and further into the hands of an elite few wealthy Americans, New York will hopefully move in a different direction -- one that could serve as an example to the rest of the country. And it's something that New Yorkers definitely want, according to a new poll from the Siena Research Institute.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Cuomo urged the state legislature to pass a publicly financed election system similar to New York City's successful program. In the Siena poll, 74% of New Yorkers support that plan. In fact, the campaign finance measures Cuomo mentioned in his speech rank above all but one issue in the level of support.
As Karen Scharff with Citizen Action of New York said, "There's no question that New Yorkers are sick and tired of our democracy being bought by the 1%, but now we know that most New Yorkers agree with Governor Cuomo on how to limit that influence... Today's Siena poll proves that regardless of political ideology, people don't want their voices weakened by CEO campaign contributors."
It's been estimated that the 2012 federal elections will cost more than $11 billion -- nearly double the 2008 election. That money is going to come from millionaires and billionaires on both sides of the aisle and you can bet they'll expect a return on that investment. New Yorkers can show the rest of the country that there's a better way.
Gov. Cuomo said in his prepared remarks for the State of the State speech that, "It's time we make sure that all New Yorkers have an equal voice in our political process. Therefore, it is imperative that we implement real campaign finance reform and provide citizens with a voice in the very foundation of democracy -- the ballot box."
He's right. Let's get it done, New York.