We believe in expanding citizens’ participation in our democracy and in robust, enthusiastic, honest political debate. Norman Rockwell’s famous painting “Freedom of Speech” depicts a lone citizen in opposition to a proposal at a Vermont town meeting. Likewise, we believe in respecting the rights of those who disagree with our perspective and giving them the same opportunities to speak as we enjoy. We want more speech, not less speech; more debate, not less debate. And when the debate or the election is over, we believe in uniting as Americans and as friends.
Too often today in our country, though, there is little tolerance for dissent from official or popular views. Too often debate is shut down and opposing voices either lost or unheard amid the clamor of those who can afford to pay more or who control the airwaves. This is unhealthy for our democracy and for our survival as one united people.
And this trend can combine with a loss of privacy, driven by the explosion of information easily available over the Internet and the immediacy with which that information can be spread – whether or not that information is accurate.
Generally, we believe in greater transparency in politics and in political contributions. We believe equally strongly, however, that no one should be punished for their political views. Our goal is to expand the ability of individual citizens to participate in politics, including through giving money to the candidates of their choice. It is important to ensure that no one is punished for making those choices or those contributions.
The secret ballot is an important part of our democracy. We do not believe in equal secrecy for political money, but we do believe in protections for average citizens who wish to contribute to politics. In an era in which social media postings are used by employers to screen job candidates, we want to avoid situations in which someone is punished by losing a job or in other ways for expressing political views. This is why we believe in raising the amount that can be contributed to a Federal campaign without public disclosure, so that citizens are not discouraged from making contributions to political campaigns by the possibility of retaliation from employers, unions, or others. In a world with too little personal privacy, small contributions to our political system deserve privacy.
We will be a strong voice condemning retaliation for political views when it happens. Our republic is strongest when everyone can participate freely.