"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

What Would It Take?

Today I received a mass e-mail from my former State Senator, Ken Gordon.  Mr Gordon is also my former Colorado House Representative, as well as my former state Senator.  He was term-limited out of both houses, and now works as a defense attorney and is very active in the Colorado Democratic Party, advocating for issues and candidates that he feels are worthy of our support.  He is one of the few politicians that I have ever met that was open, responsive to his constituents, and willing to buck either party's establishment if he thought that it was in his constituents best interests.

He has also never taken a dime in political contributions from PACs or business interests, and only supports candidates who do the same.

He is now supporting Andrew Romanoff in the upcoming Democratic primary for Colorado's open Senate seat, which was vacated by current Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.  Former Denver Public Schools
Superintendent Michael Bennet was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill his seat, and now must run if he wants to keep his seat.

Andrew Romanoff was my Colorado House Representative after Ken was term-limited out of the House in 2000, and remained until his own term limit came up in 2008.  He is also very progressive, and, like Gordon, does not accept PAC or business contributions.  I first met him when he came to my door in 2000, asking for my vote.  He campaigned by walking door to door, and having volunteers pass out fliers.  He bucked the party establishment and defeated the establishment candidate, Lois Court, by taking his case directly to the neighborhoods that he wanted to represent.

He has raised a little over a $1 million for his campaign, almost all from individual donations, and mostly in donations under $200.  The $37500 that didn't come from individual contributions came out of his own pocket:

Andrew Romanoff 2010 campaign financing

Bennet, on the other hand, has raised over $6 million for his own campaign, over a million of it from PACS.

Clearly, Mr Romanoff is someone who is not tied to the often mentioned "Corporatocracy".  He's a community college law professor who has turned down lucrative jobs in private industry, and more recently, a job offer from the Obama Administration that was intended to keep him out of the Senate race.  Obama is backing Michael Bennet.  Romanoff did recently get an endorsement from Bill Clinton.   Which you shouldn't necessarily hold against him.

So, why am I advocating for a US Senate candidate here?  Obviously, most of my readers out there are neither registered Democrats nor Coloradans,  and are unable to vote in this upcoming primary.

I am writing this because I want to know something--what would it take?  What would it take to get you to vote for a major (or even minor) party candidate?  What would it take to get you to vote at all?

So many of you are always decrying the influence of big business and big money in politics.  But you won't even support candidates who don't accept business or PAC contributions.  I hear it all of the time.  "But you just know that The CorporationsTM are funneling money to him!  You just know that he's really just part of the ruling elite!"

No, I don't know that.  I would like any of you saying such things about the few candidates like Romanoff, who have bucked the system even while working within the government and the party, who have done a good job representing their constituents, who have voted against business interests when it was in their constituents best interest, to show me some evidence that they are secretly working for The CorporationsTM.  If you won't take their word for it, then why should I take yours?  They provide evidence of where their money is coming from.  If you don't believe them, then why don't you provide some evidence to the contrary?

Many of you say that we should vote out all incumbents, and replace them with people who are not beholden to the corporatocracy.  But when candidates that fit the bill come along, then you won't support them, either.

You can't change anything unless you support the people who want to change it.

Back to Ken Gordon.  In 1998, he supported, and campaigned for, the ballot initiative that imposed term limits on Colorado state legislators, which would eventually put him out of a job.  He worked against his own interests to serve those of his constituents.  Term limits also help to limit the influence of big business, since entrenched incumbency makes it easier to cultivate compliant legislators.

Yet, despite all of this, I doubt that even a dozen of you reading this would have ever voted for either Gordon or Romanoff.

So once again, I ask--what would it take?

With Ken Gordon's permission, I'll let him have the last word here, from today's e-mail blast:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Most of Congress is beholden to big special interests like banks, oil companies, insurance and pharmaceuticals.  Because one of the candidates in Colorado’s Senate race, Andrew Romanoff, is not taking this money, we have one of the few chances we will ever have to do something about this.  We need not to squander this opportunity.

The last time I sent an email, over 10,000 people opened it.  If each of you contacts two people and says something like, “You know there is way too much money in politics.  We have a US Senate candidate who isn’t taking that money.  This is important.  We need to support him.  Will you support Andrew Romanoff and contact two people as well?”  That would probably be enough to overcome the money advantage that the other candidate has.  

It can be like a chain reaction, a people-driven chain reaction, a chain reaction of citizens who realize that they have the power to change the way we elect people.  It doesn’t have to be the person with the most money.  It can be the best candidate. 

Let’s do this.  It doesn’t matter whether your issue is health care, protecting the environment, education or something else.  You will never be able to make significant progress until you get big money out of politics.  This can be a first step.  If we don’t do it we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Whose job is it to make sure that our government is a democracy, responsive to the needs of the people?

Look in the mirror.