If you can handle my tinny, nasally mid-Western voice, the above video offers a detailed explanation on how candidate contracts take the guesswork out of voting and set a whole, new standard for electoral integrity in our country. Or you can just read the entire text of the presentation, which follows here:
The candidate contract idea is simple and straightforward.
The candidate contract takes the guesswork out of voting.
It sets a new standard for deciding where a candidate stands on crucial issues, how serious that candidate is about solving problems which are important to us voters, how serious that candidate is about representing his or her constituents. In fact, it sets down in writing what exactly that candidate will be doing when they arrive in Washington DC, right from Day One.
Every candidate says the right things. They always say what they think the voters want to hear, the things that will get them elected. Everyone understands this.
But talk is cheap. And after they get elected, when these folks arrive in our nation’s capital and get inside that DC bubble, amnesia sets in.
How do I know?
That’s simple. It’s so obvious anyone can see it. You just have to look.
Just consider a few of these items.
63% of Americans want a federal minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.
That means more than 6 out of every 10 citizens want the minimum wage hiked to $15 per hour. Mind you the minimum livable wage in urban areas like New York, San Francisco, Boston is over $22 per hour. But $15 per hour would be a good start in the right direction. What is it now? It’s equivalent in today’s dollars to what it was in 1950! It’s a paltry $7.25 an hour. It hasn’t increased since July of 2009. That’s eight years ago!
75% of voters want fair trade agreements protecting jobs, workers, the environment. 75%! That’s a huge majority opposed to the trade bills which now give corporations enormous advantages, are responsible for exporting our jobs, destroying our unions, replacing good permanent employment with low wage temporary jobs. Is Congress listening? It doesn’t matter which party is in the Oval Office or even on Capitol Hill. We still get NAFTA, CAFTA, TTIP, WTO. Last year our pay-for-play legislators in the deep pockets of the multinational corporations fast-tracked TPP, the worst trade bill in history. These neoliberal lapdogs won’t quit until we’re all back to being hunter-gatherers!
76% of voters want a cut back on military spending. So what do we get next year? Trump proposes an increase of $56 billion in the official defense budget with members of Congress from both parties cheering him on like a bunch of snarling pit bulls.
76% of voters want the U.S. completely out of Afghanistan. We’ve been fighting that miserable pointless war for 16 years, folks! They promised to get U.S. troops out of the country by 2014. Now it’s 2017 and they’re putting more troops back in. We’re going to be there forever! For what? To waste another $600 billion dollars and have more of our best and brightest come back in body bags?
79% of voters want no reductions in Social Security. 70% support expanding it. 79% of voters want no reductions in Medicare. Here we have two of the most successful programs in our history, loved and supported by the people. Yet every new session of Congress, there’s talk about cutting benefits, raising eligibility age — slash slash slash. Or they talk about “privatizing” it, which is doublespeak for turning it over to Wall Street so they can gamble with the money we’ve put away all our lives. It’s truly a crime!
There are many more. So far I’ve just scratched the surface.
But there’s one last one I’ll mention that truly tells the story, that shows what a sad state of affairs our faltering democracy is in. Get this: 93% of Americans want GMO labeling. Mind you, they’re not saying GMOs must be banned. They’re just saying that the labels for our processed food should say whether the product contains GMO ingredients or not, so that a shopper can make an informed judgment about whether they want to buy it — a mother who wants to be prudent in planning the diet for her kids, a person who may have severe food allergies which requires them to pay attention to the ingredients on a label. 93%! That crosses all party lines, ideologies, religions, liberal, conservative, all ethnicities, visitors from outer space. 93%! And Congress won’t pass a bill requiring GMO labeling. That really says it all, doesn’t it?
Okay, we’ve got a range of different issues on the candidate contract we’ve prepared. They are the things millions and millions of Americans want done — huge majorities of U.S. citizens. As different as these items individually are, what do they all have in common? You’ve got it! NONE OF THIS GETS THROUGH OUR DEADBEAT CONGRESS! Well, I shouldn’t say they’re deadbeat, because they’re not. They are actually working hard to make sure none of these things gets passed, working hard not for you and I, but for their rich patrons, their deep-pocketed Wall Street donors, their Koch brothers and defense contractors, investment bankers and hedge fund buddies.
Like I said, candidates always say the right things. Take minimum wage: “I believe everyone deserves the right to make a decent living. This is the richest nation on earth. Every person deserves a good life.” Sound familiar? What’s he going to say? I think some folks should starve to death on slave wages? Of course not. But he used a lot of words to say nothing. The candidate contract makes it a simple but powerful yes or no question: Will you commit in writing to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour or not? Yes or no.
So . . . all we’re saying to a candidate is this: “We love your TV ads, you’ve got a lovely family, your t-shirts and bumper stickers look great! But running this country is serious business. So from now on, we want it in writing, in black-and-white, in a legally-binding contract what you will be doing to serve us, the folks who are sending you to your cushy job in Washington DC. No ambiguity. No compromise. No equivocation. We want it spelled out as an ’employment contract’ and we are asking you to sign it. We’re not forcing you. It’s your choice. It’s a straightforward deal here. You sign the contract, you’ve got our vote. You don’t sign the contract, we’re looking for a candidate who has the integrity, courage, and responsibility to sign it. We’ll be voting for that person. Understand this: There’s no room for negotiation. This is final! That’s the way it works now.”
You see, professional politicians have gotten spoiled. They get so much attention, so much money, so many favors lavished on them once they get in office, they forget the most important single aspect of their job description: THEY WORK FOR US! We’re not casting votes for them to talk to lobbyists and rich campaign donors. We’re casting our votes to have them go to DC and work on behalf of us, the people, the everyday Americans that make up 99% of the population.
Please. Just read the contract. Everything in it is what at minimum 62% of us regular folks want done. On many items, it’s even greater. 75%. 78%. 80% and above. Right now those things aren’t getting done. Year after year, our elected officials ignore the will of the people, the very citizens who vote them into office. The candidate contract will make sure they start paying attention.
Here’s the simple truth. Here’s what’s happening on the ground in real time right now in America.
Voters are tired of slick campaign rhetoric and empty campaign promises. They’re fed up with a system that’s rigged.
They’re fed up with being left behind, forgotten by their elected officials.
They’re tired of everything getting done for Wall Street, the big banks, the corporations, the wealthy.
They’re fed up with nothing getting done for the PEOPLE — honest, hard-working everyday citizens.
Folks! We need to DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND!
No negotiation. No excuses. No mercy. No fear.
That’s exactly what the candidate contract does. It lets us know exactly who’s on our side and who isn’t.
Okay, one last point: People sometimes ask me, “What kind of candidate would sign such a contract?”
The answer to that is very simple: A candidate who wants to win the coming election. The contract spells out what the voters want by huge majorities. Voters are sick and tired of compromises. They want the job done and want it done right. Therefore, voters need to stand united and stand strong. Vote only for candidates who are on their side, who will work for them! And that being the case, the reason why a candidate should be running full speed with pen in hand to sign the contract is because they want to get elected and be sent to Washington DC to serve those who elected them honestly, faithfully, transparently.
Let me add some beautifully twisted logic to illustrate further why a candidate would want to sign this contract.
We all know there are some good people in politics, decent human beings who truly want to do the right thing. But politics is often more about power, money, twisting arms, bullying, than about doing what’s good for the people. So let’s say our candidate — who has signed the contract — arrives in Washington and right off the bat, there’s some lobbyist at his door. The lobbyist gives his pitch, the typical let’s-see-what-we-can-do-here, the usual I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-my-back blah blah blah. He’s got some mega transnational corporation paying him big bucks to wax the slide with Congress and get some favorable legislation passed. Well, here’s the beauty of the contract: Our guy, the one who got elected because he signed on the dotted line with you the voters, can say: “Hey, I sure appreciate your coming in and talking to me about this. But here’s the deal. I’m under contract to my constituents. I have no room to negotiate, no room to trade or bargain on any of this. If I go against my constituents on this, I’ll be on the streets without this job, I’ll have to refund all my campaign contributions — and hey, the money is spent, how will I begin to do that? — and I’ll probably get my ass sued for more money than I’ll make in a lifetime. So even if I wanted to go along with what you’re proposing, I have no choice. I am legally-bound by contract to answer only to those who voted me into office. Thanks for stopping by. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
See how this works? See why this introduces an unprecedented level of honesty, transparency, integrity, back into voting? Do you see why at least in terms of good, decent, honest politicians, we’re actually doing THEM a favor with this contract.
Okay, I’ve talked your ear off. Let me wrap this up.
Yes, the candidate contract is a new innovation. But it’s a necessary innovation. Before there were cars, we didn’t need traffic lights. Before big money and unprecedented concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a ruling elite, we didn’t need an enforceable contract with our elected officials. Times change and we need to change with it. Candidate contracts are the answer to the dismal state of our democracy.
Granted, we have a lot of work to do to repair the mess we’re in. But good work depends on good dependable workers. Let’s put some real public servants in office who will serve the public, not just the rich and powerful. Let’s put some representatives in Congress who will represent everyday Americans, not Wall Street banks, corporate CEOs, not the incomprehensibly rich. Let’s put some integrity back into our elections by electing only those with the integrity to sign on the dotted line, guaranteeing they will work for you in creating an America that works again for everyone.
Here is the link to look at the version of the candidate contract for a progressive running for the House of Representatives: Candidate Contract – An American Renewal.
If you’re interested in getting into the real details of an independent campaign using the candidate contract strategy — and it is an entire electoral strategy, not just a sheet of paper with some legalese — I recommend reading the two books which got me noticed by several progressive activist groups now adopting the candidate contract for future campaigns, e.g. the highly regarded Revolt Against Plutocracy.
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1QJRiNZ
Amazon (Print) . . . amzn.to/1Cuq0du
Apple (iTunes) . . . apple.co/1BXnPcy
Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/1GpTTLq
Kobo (Indigo) . . . bit.ly/1OEI2xj
Smashwords . . . bit.ly/1B4DQCp
Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/1MGjDnN
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1VMf2Ft
Amazon (Print) . . . amzn.to/1L9SdIC
Apple (iTunes) . . . apple.co/1JD1YAg
Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/1ZUJUpn
Kobo (Indigo) . . . bit.ly/1IX6rO4
Smashwords . . . bit.ly/22PXWLf
Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/1i7ISFM