The system is rigged and broken. A small number of people have far too much political power in America. There is a clear way out, and it starts in the states.
In the past, quick anti-corruption reform has started in the states. Until the late 19th century, ballots were mostly public, leading to systematic bribery of voters. Secret ballots were the result of state-by-state reform movements in the 1880s and 1890s.
Our current problem isn’t bribery of voters, but legal bribery of candidates. Power flows from elections, and right now most elections rely exclusively on private funding by some of the wealthiest people in world history. That means most candidates – and therefore, leaders – have no choice but to become sycophants to their interests. The corruption in our elections corrupts all of our politics.
The first step to a state-by-state wave is to recognize the exceptions – the places in America where candidates are free to run for office without begging for favors from oligarchs. Inside the broken system are functioning microcosms of what could be.
In New York City, where I live, candidates are free to fund their campaigns privately or publicly, and that freedom from begging has transformed politics and policy. More women, more people of color, and more people from middle class families hold power. Candidates run on their ideas, and don’t keep silent when they have ideas that the billionaires don’t like. When someone in power makes a bad policy judgment, they have only themselves to blame, not their funders.