17TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
The concept of “Democracy Dollars” just might coax game show host Wink Martindale out of retirement. Except, it’s not a pilot for an ABC television show next fall, but an idea Rep. Ro Khanna promoted this week to rid Washington from the effects of special interest campaign contributions.
Along with Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, also a strong Khanna supporter during the most recent election, the trio are pitching a plan they call “Democracy Dollars.”
Khanna described the idea to Paste magazine:
“Basically, every citizen would get $100 which they could then give to candidates or political groups,” he explained. “It would way overwhelm the private spending, and instead of four or five percent of the country participating, giving money, it would be much broader participation…”
“Candidates would have to make a choice to either raise money from these Democracy Dollars or regular dollars,” he told the magazine. “Most will choose the Democracy Dollars, because, if they don’t, their opponent will get all the democracy dollars, and they’d get outspent and also get called a plutocrat. You would basically democratize people’s ability to fund campaigns.”
Khanna has longed pledged to never accept PAC money and has followed through during two congressional campaigns. However, his stance has sometimes felt hallow to some progressives in his district since Khanna’s campaign coffers have always been supercharged with money from big-name Silicon Valley elites. Their individual power, they argue, is as influential as thousands of supporters pitching in a few dollars at a time.
That doesn’t mean Khanna isn’t trying. In March, he and Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke introduced legislation that cuts closer to the chase in its bid to force Washington to kick its addiction to special interest money. The No PAC Act essentially seeks to make law what Khanna and O’Rourke already do–eschew special interest campaign contributions.
This month, Khanna also recently formed the “No PAC Caucus” that includes six other members of congress.