Funding the blogosphere -- and fighting for fair elections
by Dick Durbin, Wed Jun 13, 2007 at 09:55:15 AM EDT
A few weeks ago, Chris Bowers posted a diary about "the need for more sustainable funding of the progressive, political blogosphere." I couldn't agree more -- and I'm going to do my own small part by buying some blog ads, which I'll come to in just a minute.
But I think Chris' diary also teed up a broader question: How can all of the elements of the progressive movement join together to put America back on the right track -- grassroots activists, bloggers, donors, elected officials, party leaders, and everyone in between? Yes, funding the blogosphere is an important element -- and advertising on blogs may be one part of the solution -- but as Chris has discussed, there's certainly more to it as well.
One thing I know we have to do is communicate and coordinate more -- because only through an open exchange of ideas can we truly develop an agenda and an overall message that all of us can get behind and promote in our own ways. What's more, by blogging and communicating and producing other forms of rich content (like web video, podcasting, and the like), we're not just mobilizing our existing community, we're bringing more people into our movement as well. And growing the size of the progressive movement -- much of which is happening at the netroots level -- is how we're going to bring about real, lasting change for America.
That's one reason that I'm blogging here today, why I blogged my response to President Bush's State of the Union address on DailyKos in January, why I'll be attending YearlyKos in Chicago this August, and why I will be back as often as I can over the coming weeks and months to continue our dialogue. And I know many of my Senate colleagues -- Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Jim Webb, and many others -- are committed to continuing this dialogue with the netroots as well.
Clearly, as Chris wrote, we all need to work together to win. So that's why I'm asking for your help today.
A few weeks ago, I introduced my "Fair Elections Now" legislation -- a bill that would break the dependence on special interest money in U.S. Senate elections once and for all by providing public funds to qualified candidates. Here are the four major components of my "Fair Elections Now" plan:
- Seed Money: Allow candidates to raise a limited amount of seed money, capped at $100 per contributor, to get their campaigns up and running
- Qualifying for Public Funds: Candidates must raise a specified number (based on the size of the state) of $5 contributions from residents of their state in order to demonstrate that they are serious, viable candidates
- Allocation of Public Funds: Once a candidate qualifies for public funding, he or she is eligible to receive a minimum of $750,000, plus an additional $150,000 for every Congressional District in the state minus one
- "Fair Fight" Funds: If a candidate is being outspent by independent expenditures or an opponent who has refused public financing, the law would match that spending dollar-for-dollar up to 200 percent of the base allocation
My approach is simple, fair, and would free U.S. Senate candidates from depending on special interests to run their campaigns -- for good.
But I need your help to convince my colleagues to support this bill. The current system of private financing of elections has been around a long time, and it's not going to be easy to change it.
Please visit http://www.FairElectionsNow.com where you can forward an email to your Members of Congress, urging them to support my legislation. And then I hope you'll invite other people you know to do the same thing.
I'm convinced that the progressive blogosphere can help us win this fight and spread the word. That's why I'm blogging here today -- and that's why I'm going to be putting my money where my mouth is, purchasing blog ads to help us reach even more people and build support for my Fair Elections Now plan. We're still putting the finishing touches on the ads, but we hope to launch them next week.
I know this wave of blog ads won't solve the entire funding problem, but I hope it's yet one more step in that direction. I'll continue to push my colleagues in Washington to do what they can to help as well.
Thanks again for everything you do. I look forward to continuing to build a progressive movement with you that will bring about real, lasting change in America for generations to come.
-- Dick Durbin
P.S. Please do take just a second to speak out through http://www.FairElectionsNow.com. I really need your help to convince my colleagues to support this important bill.