Clean Elections Under Attack


Now there’s a surprise.

Right-wing corporate interests are trying to repeal Clean Elections laws in Arizona. Molly Ivins has the skinny.

AUSTIN, Texas — No sooner do we win a long struggle to clean up politics and restore democracy in this country than we find the whole thing under attack, and we have to go out and re-fight the same battle all over again. Good thing we’re not easily discouraged.This is what’s happening in Arizona, where the successful Clean Elections law is now under attack by the big special interests and national conservatives with ties that run from Tom DeLay (surprise!) to Bush’s fund-raising machine.

Micah Sifry of Public Campaign reports, “They’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that doesn’t mention anywhere its true intent, to de-fund the Clean Elections system.” This charming endeavor is masquerading under the misnomer “No Taxpayer Money for Politicians,” a misleading moniker right up there with Bush’s “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests” initiatives. What a shame they couldn’t figure out a way to call it the Patriot Amendment.

The bad news for the bad guys is that evidence continues to accumulate that Clean Elections work — they are actually reviving democracy. In Arizona and Maine, where Clean Elections have been in effect for a couple of years, more candidates are running and competitiveness has increased. According to a study done by political scientists at the University of Wisconsin in May of this year: “There is no question that public funding programs have increased the pool of candidates willing and able to run for state legislative office. This effect is most pronounced for challengers, who are far more likely than incumbents to accept public funding. In Arizona, the likelihood that an incumbent will have a competitive race more than doubled from 22 percent of all races in 1998 to 45 percent in 2002.”

Of course they work, that’s why the corporatists are so up-in-arms about them–laws like that make politicians and elections harder to buy, impossible in some cases. They can’t let these laws stand because they risk losing control of the govt and therefore of the goodies they make govt give them. So they’re using their usual tactics–lies, evasion, misdirection, and mischaracterization–to try to bring them down.

The question is, ‘Are Arizonans sufficiently stupified by the bullshit to let them get away with it?’ Let’s hope not.

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