American campaigns have always been a commodity. Wealthy people started newspapers to push their candidates. Cronies were given jobs only to have their paychecks tapped. Votes have been bought and agenda's pushed. Since Andrew Jackson's 1882 presidential election we have ignored, to our detriment, the fact that money and governance don't mix.
Those who have been hired to govern are impotent without the money. They have too much to lose if they speak out. We – former candidates, would be candidates, voters and Americans alike – must speak out against the selling of America. We have too much to lose if we don't. And, finally, the flash point is here.
Meanness and slander have always been a part of our hiring process as well. There is even a formula that candidates use to figure out how many times they can make their opponent look shifty before the voter gets turned off. Campaigns aren't an exploration of ideology. They are a full body contact sport with no holds barred and the sole objective is to be the last one standing. With billions at stake, money is the root of it all.
The shooting of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) was a shocking look in the mirror. We wanted it to be about crime and insanity, so we could ignore the role political campaigns play in dehumanizing each other. We don't want to face the fact that we live in a world in which "get bloody" and "take aim" are campaign slogans. We don't want to face the fact that we live in a world in which we call each other Socialist, Marxist, Communist, baby-killer, un-American and even Hitler himself for merely disagreeing ideologically.
There is good news, however. Like many women, Gabby has a couple of best friend who would do anything for her; Debbie and Kristen. Debbie is a congresswoman and Kristen is a Senator. They understand what people in Washington must do to win re-election so, out of loyalty and love; Debbie and Kristen planned a campaign fundraiser for Gabby just days after the shooting. They took on the burden of fundraising for Gabby so Gabby could focus exclusively on the important stuff like her health and her family. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a BFFs like Debbie and Kristen.
In the end, Gabby resigned from Congress. Today, she is fighting hard for universal background checks. Her recovery is nothing short of a miracle; a miracle of love, devotion and passion. She is a woman of "fight, fight, fight."
So are her two BFFs. Now they must "fight, fight, fight" for us all. It is time to introduce the Gabby Giffords Humane Campaigning Act. It is time to demand a real conversation about money and politics. It is time to demand that America – for once and for all – admit that when big money is involved people will do and say anything to protect their investment. Anything.
The Gabby Giffords Humane Campaigning Act sponsored by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) would allow candidates to admit that they are uncomfortable with being bought and sold too. It would allow donors to admit that they hate having the squeeze put on them. It would canonize from the floor of Congress that corporations aren't ideological beings. Corporations are profit makers and they only spend money on what will benefit their bottom line. It would hold candidates accountable for the truthfulness in their rhetoric.
As it cuts, the head off this poisonous snake, Gabby's Act could stop the perverse incentive that leads to the false facts, fake grassroots organizations and fear mongering. Gabby's Act can bring an important diversity of perspective in office as single moms and blue-collar dads bring their common sense to the table even without the goose that laid the golden Rolodex. Gabby’s Act can bring citizen legislators back to Washington.
A revolution in whom we elect, how we elect them and how we hold them accountable for their words is befitting of Gabby's courage, Debbie and Kirsten's devotion and America’s promise.