A Critical Conversation on The ReidOut: Advocating for Campaign Finance Reform

I was recently on The ReidOut and spoke with Joy Reid about the critical problem of money in politics and the need for campaign finance reform.

My recent conversation on The ReidOut sheds light on the problems and negative outcomes of our current political financing system. This is such a critical issue, and I want to expand on the discussion we had in the interview.

The phone call I received on October 16th while on my way to a grassroots fundraiser in Pontiac was a stark reminder of the pervasive influence of money in American politics. The caller made the offer clear: if I dropped out of the Senate race against their preferred candidate and instead ran against Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, I would be backed with $10 million in soft money and a concerted effort to raise an equal amount in hard money. I refused of course. I won’t be bossed, bullied, or bought. But this blatant and unapologetically corrupt offer highlights the deep-seated issues within our political financing system.

Our electoral process is infected by the overwhelming influence of financial contributions. This is not an isolated incident, but a symptom of a system that allows, and even encourages, such influence. In 93% of federal elections, the candidate who raises the most money wins, and if they want to keep winning then they need to keep raising more money than everyone else. This system is why broadly supported policies like sensible gun control laws remain unpassed due to the gun lobby and NRA’s influence. Big Pharma spent over $328 million on political candidates and expenditures in 2022, and prescription drug prices are significantly higher in the U.S. than in other countries. Our current political structure enables big corporations, powerful lobbies, and wealthy donors to pull elected officials away from representing the people.

I am a staunch advocate for campaign finance reform. In my view, no election, aside from the presidency, should last more than six months, and there should be a fundraising cap set at $100,000 with a public matching fund. Candidates should have to build movements that inspire volunteer and build genuine public support. True representation means speaking to the hearts and minds of the people and empowering active public involvement in the political process. Campaigns should be powered by people, not money, and our elected officials should be serving the public interest, not lobbyists, big corporations, and wealthy donors.