Censure, expulsion, and cutting off the checkbook of big monied donors are all on the table in response to the attack on American democracy. On January 13th, President Donald J. Trump became the first President to be impeached twice. Those articles await the Senate next week. While that history was made, and a form of accountability undertaken, another movement should also be grabbing our attention. Big monied corporate donors are pulling their donations to the other politicians who helped create a threat to our democracy by objecting to certify the electoral college.

The panic that has set in for ranking members of the Republican party shows the need for campaign finance reform. Ignore the pitiful cries of “cancel culture” from those being held accountable for their complicity. For decades, these same politicians claimed all those Benjamin-faced bills were “free speech.” Well, American businesses are talking and they’ve got something to say.

The problem is the more money you could provide to campaign coffers, the more influence you had on policy outcomes. It was the premium to get noticed in politics and what you want out of government. It is time to change that.

To date – aside from impeachment of the President – politicians haven’t seemed too worried about procedural punishment within their chambers. Apparently, censures, committee removals, and expulsion aren’t as worrisome as the stream of campaign cash drying up. It seems cutting off donations is the strongest form of accountability in our political system. That is a problem. But, it is a problem we can solve.

Each election cycle becomes more expensive. Every year, politicians spend more time at fundraisers, making fundraising phone calls, creating fundraising committees, and now have created a system to flood your inbox with solicitations. Until the attempted coup, it seemed the more outlandish, jaw-dropping, and headline-grabbing a politician could be the more TV and radio appearances they booked, more social media followers they got, and the more money they could pull in. Just weeks ago, those appearances, follows, and donation asks circulated around the lie of a “stolen election.” They used that dangerous lie to raise money for their campaigns at the cost of the confidence in our election and our democracy.

The bottom line is we have been rewarding the wrong type of person in our politics. It has fueled the toxic environment we find ourselves in. It is time to stop electing wannabe celebrities and start electing statesmen and women again. Reward public servants and not political pundits. There are action items we can take. The first has revealed itself as the panic builds over the constant flow of campaign cash coming to a halt. As we look to get our fragile democracy functioning again, let’s create sensible campaign finance reforms.

Tyler Axness
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