Tim Canova Has A Progressive Vision For South Florida And For America
Tonight Bernie won all 4 congressional districts in the Kansas caucuses. Statewide, the vote was 67.7% to 32.3% and he won 23 delegates to the conservative establishment candidate's 10. In Nebraska, Bernie took 55.1% to Clinton's 44.9%, 14 delegates for him and 10 for her. In Louisiana, Hilary won a name recognition primary in one of the most poorly educated states in the country and took 35 deluges to Bernie's 10. Down in South Florida, as far as I can tell, there were two things that inspired Tim Canova to run for the congressional seat that's been long held by entrenched corrupt conservative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. One inspiration was Wasserman Schultz herself and the other was Bernie Sanders and his inspiring campaign. Blue America has endorsed Tim and we are urging our members to support his campaign, which you can do here at this link. "The political revolution is coming here to South Florida," he wrote to his supporters today, as he introduced his own platform of policies that he is running on.
Most Americans understand that our political system is fundamentally unfair. Through enormous campaign contributions, giant corporations and a handful of the wealthiest individuals are able to buy access to our elected officials and dictate legislative outcomes. This is perhaps the most important issue we face as a nation.
If we don’t get big money out of politics, we will not accomplish what needs to be done for working families, the middle class, ordinary citizens. This is why my campaign is not taking a penny from corporations, their political action committees (PACs) or Super PACs. Instead, we are financing our campaign through thousands of small donations from ordinary citizens. When elected, I will not owe any special favors to any corporate interests or billionaire donors. This is in stark contrast to my opponent, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has raised many millions of dollars from large corporate interests. Not surprisingly, her policy positions and votes in Congress largely reflect corporate agendas.
No doubt, our distorted campaign finance system helped shift my opponent’s politics from progressive to corporate. And this is all too typical, with elected officials taking millions of dollars in corporate special interest money and then disregarding what is in the best interest of their own constituents. A comprehensive study by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern University’s Benjamin Page confirms this dynamic. After analyzing nearly 2000 policy issues in detail, they conclude: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
This is not the picture of a strong, vibrant democracy. We can do much better.
As a law professor and activist, I have been a steadfast critic of the Citizens United 5-to-4 decision by the Supreme Court that has allowed a flood of dark money from phantom donors into our politics. As Senator Bernie Sanders has noted, “The Citizens United decision hinges on the absurd notion that money is speech, corporations are people, and giving huge piles of undisclosed cash to politicians in exchange for access and influence does not constitute corruption.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, there has been more than half a billion dollars of such dark money in our politics since Citizens United. By the end of this presidential election, that figure will certainly be well more than a billion dollars. This is why I support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and why I believe reversing Citizens United should be a litmus test for any nominee to the Supreme Court. When elected, I intend to organize a bipartisan caucus in which members of Congress are pledged to reforming our campaign finance system and cleaning up our political system.
While my opponent also calls for overturning Citizens United, this is part of her pattern of saying one thing and doing another. She says she’s for small-donor driven elections, but she raises millions of dollars from large corporations and their PACs and Super PACs. She has voted to prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from forcing corporations to disclose their campaign spending to shareholders, and to block the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from curbing special interest donors from forming sham “social welfare” organizations that hide their political spending. These measures were in Omnibus spending packages that she voted for without lodging a single word of protest. As of February 26, 2016, she has refused to co-sponsor the DISCLOSE Act, introduced by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (with more than 110 co-sponsors), to shine a light on the flood of special-interest money.
And in mid-February, it was reported that the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which Wasserman Schultz leads, reversed President Obama’s 2008 ban on the DNC taking money from corporate lobbyists. President Obama was right to ban lobbyist donations because it raises all kinds of conflicts of interest and corrodes our politics, and leads to sweetheart legislation for large companies while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
The U.S. is one of only a small handful of democracies around the world that does not have publicly financed elections. We must separate corporate treasuries from public elections, and implement a transparent system of publicly-financed campaigns that amplifies small donations. Candidates for federal elections should be given free TV and cable airtime. After all, the public owns the airwaves, and TV and cable companies have benefitted from billions of dollars in public subsidies. Candidates should not have to sell out to special interests in order to raise money to pay these huge media corporations just to communicate with voters.
We must also restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court has recently gutted. We should expand early voting and vote-by-mail, and implement automatic voter registration. We also need to abolish the felon disenfranchisement laws – particularly in Florida – that deprive millions of citizens of their voting rights, often for life and frequently for non-violent drug possession offenses committed years ago.
Of significant importance as well, we must end the practice of gerrymandering, which draws the lines of Congressional districts in a manner that results in “safe” Democratic or Republican seats, making elected officials largely unaccountable at the voting booth. That’s why incumbents stay in office year after year, often for decades, turning them into professional politicians who no longer feel any urgency to represent the interests of the actual people who comprise their own constituents. That’s why members of Congress usually get reelected at rates of over 90 percent, while barely 10 percent of the public approves of the job Congress is doing.
And this is why primary challenges like mine are often the only effective way to force accountability on entrenched incumbents. Here at home, for instance, Florida’s 23rd Congressional District is seen as a safe Democratic seat. My opponent has been reelected over and over, and has never faced a primary challenger, ever! And with no primary challenger in a safely Democratic seat, there is no genuine discussion, much less debate, within our district as to the serious issues facing all of us, and the overall direction of our country.
This is why progressive activist and labor scholar Amy Dean has recognized our campaign as a potential game changer: “If [Tim Canova’s] insurgent campaign catches on, it could represent a serious problem for the Democratic Party establishment. It could signal an increasing willingness by grass-roots activists to use primary challenges to place champions for working people in office rather than accept lesser-evil candidates simply because they are incumbents.”Tim would be a great candidate and make an amazing congressman even if his opponent weren't notorious sleaze-bag Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Vanquishing her would just be icing on the cake because once she's gone, no one will remember her perfidy long-- at a point when Tim is determined to work on policies that will help change America and change South Florida. His shocking-- to the establishment-- endorsement by the Communication Workers of America was inspiring to activists in Broward and Miami-Dade. For many, it signaled the beginning of the end for the widely and deservedly reviled Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If you can help, please tap the thermometer:
This is why Zach Carter at the Huffington Post has written that our race in FL-23 “could well reveal more about the Democratic Party than any other contest in this cycle, including the one for president... It’s a test of whether progressive ideas or corporate money are more central to the Democratic Party’s future.”
When we win on August 30th, we will show the way for other ordinary citizens to challenge incumbents who have been seduced by the flood of corporate money. We are already working with others who are developing the online platforms and shared campaign infrastructure that will enable insurgent candidates, potentially in every Congressional district, to raise funds through millions of small donations. This is the way we shall overcome the barriers to effective collective action and enable progressive reformers to win primaries all across the country-- giving a voice in our democracy back to actual ordinary people.
Much is at stake.
So many other reforms that we need-- from regulating Wall Street, to rebuilding our infrastructure, addressing climate change, providing job opportunities for all, making higher education affordable, protecting consumers, rebalancing our trade relations, and much more-- are made so much more difficult as long as obscene amounts of money from giant corporations and a few wealthy donors continue to distort our politics. We must un-rig the system.
That’s what our campaign is all about.