On the same year as Common Cause's 40th anniversary, the US Supreme Court handed down a controversial ruling in the now-famous Citizens United case, allowing unlimited spending from special interests and effectively striking down several campaign finance rules that had been in effect for decades.
Veteran journalist Bill Moyers told attendees at the liberal nonprofit advocacy organization's anniversary party that this is now the most dangerous moment in American history for democracy.
"We are either going to be a nation of and by and for the people, or of and by and for the corporations," Moyers told the crowd.
But Common Cause, which is committed to open and clean elections, has been growing since then, with revenues exceeding expenditures for the past three years. Common Cause’s CEO, former Congressman Bob Edgar, stopped in Santa Fe recently to talk with reporters over coffee.
Edgar, who served in Congress as a Democrat from 1975 to 1986, shared some of Common Cause's stances on the issues—as well as some of his own, which he dubs "Edgarisms." Here are a few of his best pearls of wisdom.
I spent 12 years as a member of Congress. I know what lobbying looks like; I know what it feels like. After all the reforms that [Common Cause] has worked on, we think it's very much appropriate to have lobbyists.
…on voting fraud:
Let's stop talking about voter fraud and voter registration fraud. The real issue is, voters aren't voting, and that's the fraud.
In some countries, they fine people for not voting. I want to do the opposite. President Obama gave back a tax stimulus, $600. I want to say, 'If you vote, you get $600, [and] if you don't vote, you get $300.'
We ought to have voting on a federal holiday for national elections. Move it to a weekend when people are free and they don't have to work. Make it a super fun holiday, make it a celebration of democracy.
I apologize. You can tell I'm passionate.