Update from the campaign (10/7)

Events:

On Tuesday we hosted a 350.org event, entitled Panel for the Planet. It was a great success, with attendees from across the political spectrum all supporting environmental responsibility. Dr. Fred Van Dyke, professor of biology at Wheaton College, was the keynote speaker, and discussed how politics could address the environmental issues facing us.

Ben, speaking afterwards, said:

I’m thankful that everyone could be here and that Dr. Van Dyke could lead us in a frank discussion of what we need to do to create a more just and sustainable future. We desperately need good jobs in Illinois, and the clean energy economy is our best option for putting people back to work while tackling the urgent climate crisis. That is why, unlike my competitor, incumbent Peter Roskam, I strongly support robust clean energy legislation. It is just the right thing to do for our community. Clean energy is not solely a Democratic or Republican priority; it is a moral priority, an American priority, and one that I am proud to champion for our district.

Yesterday Ben spoke at three Political Science/American Government classes at College of DuPage, each time answering questions on his positions, on his thoughts on politics, and on why he decided to run (and to run the way he is running, free from special interests). Something he said really hit home: “Only when we have people who will win the right way will we have people who will govern the right way.”

Amen, brother.

(Did you notice our campaign pumpkin? Yeah, it wasn’t carved. We might still do that–three weeks to get around to it!)

Donations:

We recently talked to a local businessman, a Wheaton grad and a pillar of the community—he’s been overseeing his company for over 50 years! He said he’s done with supporting political candidates who simply feed into the broken status quo. But, meeting with him yesterday, he said to Ben, “You’re different. You’re the only one I’m supporting.”

The fact is, Ben’s decision not to take money from interests—to run with integrity and conviction—is refreshing for many people.

If you’d like, you’re welcome to give here. This is a grassroots campaign, energized, supported and run by volunteers. This is your campaign.

Whoever has the most money gets to choose our next legislators?

In late January 2010, following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling—in which five justices came to the conclusion that “corporations and unions have the same First Amendment rights as individuals, which means that corporations and unions are free to spend unlimited amounts of money independently in elections”—I wrote a blog entitled “Whoever has the most money gets to choose our next president.”

I forgot to add that whoever has the most money may also choose our legislators, as has been confirmed by the latest election spending reports:

The $80 million spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms. In that election, the vast majority of money – more than 90 percent – was disclosed along with donors’ identities. This year, that figure has fallen to less than half of the total, according to data analyzed by The Washington Post.

The trends amount to a spending frenzy conducted largely in the shadows.

The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives, who have swamped their Democratic-aligned competition by 7 to 1 in recent weeks.

First of all, less transparency in how our government and elections work is most definitely not what is needed.

And second, this sounds less like government of the people, by the people, for the people, and more like a government of special interests, by special interests, for special interests.

We can only hope that people are smart and savvy enough to see through the sham of campaign finance and vote based on values and informed reason next month.