To the editor,

Our democracy has a disease which has not been treated, and has been left to linger without care for far too long. It is an illness which can be cured by putting into place a remedy to rid the parasite attached to our political party system. The aforementioned disease is big money. And it is threatening the life of our country’s governance.

Democracy comes from the Greek word demokratia which means “power to the people.” It was a system which was put into place in Ancient Greece to give the poor the same authority and fairness as a wealthy Athenian citizen when running for office. It’s been tested time and time again throughout history. But is our campaign finance system the largest ultimatum to rid us of equality in governance?

How do we cure our democracy and bring it back to a healthy state? How do we overturn Citizens United which is the antagonizing symptom of this disease?

The first step begins with supporting candidates, no matter their party affiliation, who have taken an oath not to accept corporate PACs and lobbyist money. In our very own New York District 21, currently held by corporate-backed Republican Congresswoman Stefanik (R-Willsboro), we have a Justice Democrat named Patrick Nelson (D-Stillwater) who has not only vowed to turn down “dirty money,” but has also converted two of his Democratic challengers into accepting his pledge during recent forums – Katie Wilson (D-Keene) and Don Boyagian (D-Cambridge).

The next step is educating citizens on how our campaign finance system works and how the influence of money along with party leaders plays into the decisions which end up becoming the majority of laws. A recent example would be the Koch brothers spending $20 million on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican officials to push through their latest tax bill which will inevitably save the siblings over $1 billion next year.

Once public enlightenment takes shape, newly-elected party leaders will start to emerge who will protect the definition of democracy and allow people to once again regain control of the electoral process. The act of championing a candidate because of how much they raise during a campaign will be replaced by championing a candidate who has the best ideas on how to move our country forward.

Our only sanguine weapon is the power of an educated vote. A vote which would bring a vaccinated person into office who would bring integrity to the position. If our weapon, the voter, can be used across our great nation to elect officials on a promise to rid this disease of our democratic process, then there is still hope to stopping this epidemic before it is too late.

Will money be eliminated in politics entirely? The answer is no. It is needed for the basic necessities of a campaign to function properly; electricity/fuel to power vehicles in order to get to events, office supplies, and staff.

Can corporate PACs and lobbyist funds be eliminated from politics? That answer relies on you. The one with the power. The power to vote.

Paul Paterakis
Press Secretary
Nelson for NY

Patrick Nelson