When it comes to the debate over voting rights, one of our senators, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., gets all the attention. So I want to focus on Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s opposition to and misleading statements about the For the People Act.
Sen. Capito has derisively referred to the bill as the “so-called” For the People Act, and has made numerous inaccurate claims about it, including that the bill will use government funding to support congressional campaigns.
Let’s start with the facts. Sens. Capito and Manchin represent West Virginia, a state where the average income is just over $25,000. How can we expect the average West Virginia voter to have any influence on political campaigns or on our elected officials? Since 2010, only 11 people have contributed a fifth of the $4.9 billion super PACs have raised for campaigning.
I think the people should pick our politicians — not just the wealthy campaign contributors. The For the People Act would help level the playing field, establishing a 6-to-1 matching system for congressional or presidential candidates who reject enormous contributions. That means that everyday West Virginians could increase their political influence sixfold.
The best part? It would cost taxpayers nothing. Instead, the matching system would be funded entirely through extra charges on settlements paid by wealthy tax dodgers and corporate scoundrels.
We can’t afford to miss this opportunity to help all West Virginians participate in our political landscape. Passing the For the People Act would offer autonomy and respect in the caste system of Appalachia. It offers people — real people without political, social and economic capital — to find their way into the political sphere.
In calling it the “so-called” For the People Act, Sen. Capito is telling us who she thinks should have influence on the democratic process — her corporate donors, not her constituents. Please join me in calling on Sens. Capito and Manchin to support the For the People Act.