“I Am Those People”

April 20, 2018 | | The New Republic |

While no law prevents outside donors, for example, from investing in the campaign of a low-income person, the likelihood that they’ll do so is low. The problem is social capital: Low-income people lack it, and so their personal networks do not often contain millionaires with open pocketbooks. “A lot of times the need to fundraise large amounts of money prevents a lot of people who are qualified and who are leaders in that community from running for office because they don’t have networks that include wealthy donors,” said Allie Boldt, a Washington, D.C.-based counsel for the think tank Demos. [...]

According to Demos, 27 states, counties, and cities now implement public financing of some kind. Public financing doesn’t necessarily keep big donors or outside money from influencing a race. But it does make it easier for low-income people to participate in the democratic process by supporting candidates who represent their interests. Candidates who opted into Seattle’s program ran on strong, progressive platforms that supported the city’s $15 minimum wage and brought attention to the city’s housing crisis. Two Latinx candidates eventually won election.