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In today’s American political climate, most people do not trust the government. This is the fault of special interest groups financing political campaigns, causing candidates to be indebted to a group rather than the people they are supposed to represent. A poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 67% of adults believed the government was “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.” Allowing for public funding of political campaigns would lighten special interest groups’ grip on government and open the floor for more people to run for office who may not have had the means to finance campaigns on their own.   

Running for office is expensive, and if the people do not provide funding, interest groups will continue to control the government through political candidates of their choosing. Public financing legislation would allow California governments to enact public funding for election campaigns. In California, only five cities are allowed to have public funding campaigns. LA and San Francisco have a match system, where the government will match every $1 donated by residents with a $6 donation. Oakland, on the other hand, provides voters with four, worth $25, “democracy dollars” that they can donate to political campaigns.  

LA, San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach and Berkley all possess public financing systems because they are “charter cities;” many California cities, 357, are not permitted to set up similar systems because of the Political Reform Act. The Reform Act advocated for more transparency in political campaign financing. The bill neglected to mention public financing for fear that the opposition would claim it was a scheme to funnel taxpayer money to politicians’ pockets. Two bills to allow public finance for political campaigns will appear on California ballots in the 2024 elections. Although passing these bills is not a fix-all solution to political corruption, they are a potential way of lessening corporate influence, moving towards an era of governance by and for the people. 

Not only will public financing reduce special interests power, but it will also allow the “little guy” to participate on the American political stage. Financing a political campaign can range anywhere between $2-3 million, the average person does not casually have millions of dollars they can feasibly spend on running for office. People who have real desire and passion for change are unable to even have a chance at governing; because of this financial barrier, the wealthy have an unfair advantage and hold over American politics. Unfortunately, in politics money is the most powerful tool, providing people with real incentives for change the monetary means to achieve through public financing is the first step to reforming government.