Friday, May 6, 2011

Former Republican Senator's Argument for Fair Elections

Last month, in a national advance for Fair Elections, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss the Fair Elections Now Act. The bill, sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), would offer voluntary public financing to candidates for the House and Senate.

In today's Washington Post, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson wrote an op-ed to describe his fierce support for national Fair Elections. He argued the bill would promote free speech for ordinary Americans, encourage greater citizen participation in our democracy, and keep our elected officials accountable to people rather than to special moneyed interests.

In addition, he explained why Republicans already have and ought to continue to support Fair Elections:

Will was correct that only Democratic members of the Senate attended the hearing. But I am not alone. Former Senate colleagues who also support this long-overdue reform include Republicans Warren Rudman, Bill Cohen, Bill Brock and Frank Murkowski, as well as dozens of other former senators, representatives and governors from our side of the aisle. In fact, we owe the concept of publicly funded elections to a great Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, who proposed a similar reform in his 1905 State of the Union address.

Yes, Durbin’s bill has won more support from Democrats than Republicans in Congress in recent years, and frankly that makes me sad. The Republican Party I represented proudly for 18 years did not shy away from taking on special-interest money when it conflicted with constituents’ needs. And Tea Party adherents express a healthy indignation at what they and millions of others perceive is a government captured by and beholden to wealthy interests.

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