How Democrats Can Make Voters Care About Big Money in Politics

• Jun 03, 2015

The Washington Post By: Greg Sargent

Yesterday your humble blogger noted a dispiriting disconnect about this cycle. Given a confluence of factors — billionaire sugar daddies sponsoring GOP candidates; campaign operations housed in friendly Super PACs; outside groups readying enormous expenditures; media scrutiny of Clinton Foundation donations — you’d think the time would be ripe to make big money in politics a major issue. Yet new polling suggests voters are as apathetic about the issue as ever, making the cause seem hopeless.

But Dem Rep. John Sarbanes, a longtime campaign finance reformer, insists it is anything but hopeless. In an interview today, he laid out how he thinks Democrats can make the issue matter to voters.

Sarbanes — who has long championed reform that would give candidates who restrict the size of their donations public matching funds, boosting the influence of small donors — told me that the key to making the issue matter to voters is, above all, not to discuss it in isolation. Sarbanes told me:

    “It is hard sometimes as a stand-alone issue. But the way you can motivate people around this is, you go to an issue people care about — the environment, food safety, jobs and infrastructure — and you lead them from there to the fact that money is standing in the way of progress on that issue.

    “It’s about how you describe that connection to people. Once you do that, they will carry it with them. You’ve built a narrative around something they care very, very deeply about. We just have to get better in our messaging and in making that connection for people.”

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