A Message in a Twenty

Evan Manvel

It’s the October election push. As we scramble around in these last moments, many of us are scouring polls and projections to see how our last dollar – and volunteer hour – can be best targeted to win the most critical races. It’s cold-blooded election calculation, somewhat removed from our hearts.

But when I’m doing my calculation, it’s also clear that part of me is setting aside the polling data and looking at my core values – my true motivations and who inspires me.

One of those people is Rep. Ben Cannon.

When I first met Ben at the Lucky Lab a few years ago, I thought he was a thoughtful, intellectual, approachable person – who didn’t understand how elections worked. A first-time candidate, Ben told me he wouldn’t be taking money from PACs. I cynically took it as a sign that he knew he wasn’t going to get the money from certain PACs in his competitive five-way primary, so he was pivoting his weakness into a strength. Not a bad tactic.

But since that time, it’s become increasingly clear Ben is truly dedicated to being PAC-free. He’s frustrated with conventional campaigns, and has decided working in the public interest means his campaigns should take no money from PACs and corporations.

We all know the Supreme Court recently turned back the clock on sane federal campaign financing rules with its Citizens United decision. Big money is rushing in.

Here in Oregon, our campaign finance reporting has long told a similar story: since 2002, 71% of the money raised in Oregon legislative races has come in chunks of $1000 or more. Those contributions are mainly from the corporations and interests who buy influence, and they’ve used that influence to block progress on a host of issues.

In contrast, Ben has used shoe leather and small contributions from real people to fuel his campaigns. As a result, Rep. Cannon has been a champion in tackling the climate crisis. He’s been a leader on civil liberties and education, tax fairness and good government. He's the sort of legislator we can trust.

If these are the things you value, demonstrate your support. Ben’s been working to find 1000 donors who’ll give $20 or more. As of this morning, he's found 878 such donors. If you believe in people-funded campaigns, and if you believe in Ben, contribute to him via the 1000 Twenties project.

If you’re unsure about why you’d give to a candidate who has a noncompetitive race, the political strategist in you knows Ben is using some of his funds to help candidates in tight races. The advocate in you knows the legislators who raise money have more power at Oregon’s legislature. The media messenger in you knows it’s a protest against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited secret corporate spending in campaigns.

And your heart knows it just feels right.

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