Students call for presidential campaigns to clean up their act

To the editor:

Campaign donations are strangling our democracy. A lack of funding is more detrimental to a presidential candidate's chance at victory than an unpopular platform. In the same light, candidates with popular ideas but little money rarely have a chance to be heard. This year's candidates will collectively spend over $1 billion by November.

This nation's children are taught that any one of them can dream of becoming president. We are lying to them. It is clear that only the candidates able to undertake massive fundraising efforts are successful. Some may argue that the ability to fundraise stems from greater popularity; this ignores the advantage that incumbents experience through corporate lobbyist support. Incumbent politicians are constantly pandering to their wealthier constituency, forcing allegiances of the politicians away from the common people and towards those with money - inevitably corporations.

What is worse is that the common citizen is aware of this situation. The complaint most common to disheartened voters is that their votes don't matter when wealthy members of our society can have such a grossly disproportionate say in government. What is one citizen's vote in the face of millions of dollars?

It is not a hopeless situation. There is a rapidly growing movement in this country that is fighting against the presence of money in politics. This movement advocates the institution of "clean elections" systems that allow candidates the option of taking public money rather than private donations. It is a nuanced system that has been implemented in Maine, Arizona and five other states. The system has proven successful in returning the focus of elections to issues rather than money. More people are involved in clean elections because the checkbooks of corporations do not drown their voice out. New York State is one of the next hotbeds for this election's reform movement.

Democracy Matters, a national non-partisan organization, is working with students across the state to educate voters and involve them in the push for fair elections. Their hope is that in a few short years, we will have elections rather than auctions.

Humza Arshad, junior

Michael Case, senior

Geneseo Democracy Matters