11/21/2014 03:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Activist Comics: Public Financing

Elections are in the public interest, designating the propriety of public works, impacting every single member of the public -- so therefore we must have public financing for campaigns. When the candidate with the most money wins over 90 percent of the time, it's not an election, it's a rich kid's birthday party.

Most people don't have money to give away, let alone to people running for office. Those who give the biggest sums of money command the candidate's attention (Sheldon Adelson circle jerk), and even though these donors already have plenty of money to shower on candidates, they are blowing millions in hopes to reap millions more.

This is what our democratic process has come to. No wonder voter turnout is at an historic low. Candidates have become NASCAR drivers, promoting their sponsors like it's their job--which it is, because that is where their money is coming from. Instead of trying to make the case for public financing, the question should be, how can we not have it?

Public financing models exist across the country already, and leveling the playing field in campaign resources leads to greater parity in spending. Instead of topping the other candidate in fundraising, an aspiring office holder could focus their time on talking to voters and getting their support, not hide behind marketing.

While making my film PAY 2 PLAY I met a candidate for office whose words stuck with me. Surya Yalamanchili, who took no PAC money or party money while running for Congress, observed:

"You talk to most people, whether they're Democrats or whether they're Republicans, they want to talk about fiscal responsibility. And everybody agrees the government spends to much and they waste all this money. Then you look at the elections, and you look at them raising millions of dollars, and you look at these fancy campaign headquarters, and all of this, and you say, 'Wait a minute! Don't you guys see there's a disconnect here? You applaud the people putting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money and running these campaigns that could probably be more a lot more efficient, and then you're expecting them when they go to Washington to all of the sudden be fiscally responsible?' It's a joke."

Candidates should have to make their case with equal resources and opportunity, not by exploiting flaws in our system. Today's edition of Activist Comics highlights the disinfectant aspect of public financing for campaigns, because corruption thrives when politicians try to reward their donors by gouging away at what their predecessors built. Make all candidates super heroes with public campaign financing.


PUBLIC FINANCING is one of the Fix Six solutions featured in PAY 2 PLAY: Democracy's High Stakes, a new documentary about standing up to money in politics. Out 12/2 on DVD, available now in iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo, and Disinfo.