-by Erica Smith,
candidate for U.S. Senate, North Carolina
Running as a true grassroots-funded candidate who’s promised to prioritize people over profits puts me at an immediate disadvantage. It already a challenge for me to run for the U.S. Senate because I grew up in and represented a rural part of North Carolina that is challenged by generational poverty. It’s a challenge because I don’t have easy access to wealth and privilege.
Our system is broken because it matters more what corporations and the 1% think about your candidacy than it does what your constituents do. Our system is broken because people that come from places like where I come from don’t get a chance to go to DC and so our communities remain unheard, unseen, and unrepresented.
The revolving door of lobbyists and legislators has again led to a dynamic that ensures the voices of working people are drowned out in the halls of congress. The revolving door blurs the line between lobbyists who are explicitly on the payroll of corporations and politicians who are more subtly on the payrolls of corporations. It’s not a coincidence that lawmakers are granting privileges to corporations and fossil fuel companies for the promise of a job when they leave the public sector. How can we have an effective government when those in power are so easily bought by promises of jobs, money, and power? How will we pass climate change legislation when oil and gas lobbyists have lawmakers in their pocket? Now is the time to reform our system so that it works for all of us, not wealthy lobbyists and lawmakers but working people.
Citizens United has only worsened the corruption that has plagued politics for generations. By equating corporations with people under the guise of free speech, dark money has flowed into just about every political race in the country through Super PACs and corrupt corporations. In allowing the wealthy to have such an outsized role in elections, the Citizens United decision has become a direct threat to our democracy-- reinforcing the power that a select few have in influencing our electoral system and influencing the policies those elected officials make. It is also another example of the consequences of wealth inequality in this country, highlighting our need for publicly funded elections that give the people the power to choose their elected officials.
The question of who finances our campaigns is directly related to the question of who our politicians fight for? We have seen our politicians fight harder to protect pharmaceutical companies than to raise wages for workers. They’re fighting for the folks who bought their seats, not the ones who live back in their state or district.
When I call my campaign a people-powered movement, that doesn’t just mean that I don’t take a dime of corporate PAC or fossil fuel money. It also means that my run for Senate is defined by the small-dollar donors who support me-- from Eastern North Carolina farmers to young and inspiring activists in Durham-- their needs or my needs, their dreams or my dreams, their America is my America.
It means that I will spend every day of this campaign and of my term in office fighting to get big money out of politics, ending citizens united, closing the revolving door, and ensuring public funding for our elections.
My campaign is about all of us, and I know that we can transform our politics and reform policies to ensure that elections reflect constituents-- not corporations.
Candidates like me rarely make it to the halls of Congress because the voices of my neighbors, who don’t have access to high quality broadband and live on roads that aren’t even paved, don’t matter as much as the voice of the wealthy and well-connected. Unbought and unbossed, piece of legislation by piece of legislation, we’re going to change this broken system. We’re going to return the government to the people and lift up communities like mine across North Carolina and the country.
Earlier this morning, we noted that voters are united across partisan lines in their determination to see an end to the ability of the billionaire class to buy our elections. North Carolina Senate candidate Erica Smith personifies that determination-- far more so than political careerists like Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer or the kinds of candidates they handpick for the Senate. Please consider contributing to Smith's campaign by clicking on the 2022 Senate thermometer below. The alternative: more corrupted conservative Schumer picks like Kyrsten Sinema, Frackenlooper or the bland white male who lost to the Republicans in North Carolina last year. A study released yesterday by Open Secrets shows that so far this year Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney is the No. 2 recipient of donations from PACs associated with corporations and trade associations, trailing only-- surprise, surprise-- Chuck Schumer for the top spot among all members of Congress taking legalistic bribes from corporate America.