Bill Bradley on Government Reform

Replace soft money with public campaign finance

The solution is to make money much less important in the electoral process, and to make ideas and experience count for more. No reform of the regulated, above-ground system will matter until we close down this murky, unregulated underground by prohibiting soft-money contributions to national party committees & banning state committees from spending their soft money to affect federal elections. All it would take is committed leadership & an insistent public to turn the soft money ban into law.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 88-90 Aug 15, 2000

Political money eats away at fabric of democracy

Money is to politics what acid is to cloth-it eats away at the fabric of democracy. Democracy doesn’t have to be a commodity that is bought and sold. Most politicians enter politics to do good, not to ask for donations. There’s no reason we can’t have a political process in which everyone’s voice can be heard, in which dissent is respected, and in which candidates run on the strength of their ideas, not the weight of their wallets.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 84-86 Aug 15, 2000

Make voter registration easier

I spent many years working to make it easier to register to vote. Advance voter registration is the last barrier in the long row of barriers blocking participation. Why should people have to jump through hoops to exercise their most important right as citizens? In an age of computers, anyone should be able to walk into a voting place, demonstrate proof of identity, and case a vote that very day.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 94-95 Aug 15, 2000

Supreme Court nominees should interpret adjustable law

Q: What criteria would you use to select the new Supreme Court Justices?

GORE: I would look for justices of the Supreme Court who understand that our Constitution is a living & breathing document, that it was intended by our founders to be interpreted in the light of the constantly evolving experience of the American people. The right of privacy, just to take one example, was found by Justice Blackmun in the Constitution, even though the precise words are not there.

BRADLEY: Other than war & peace, Supreme Court appointments are the most lasting contribution that a president ever makes. It is imperative to find people of real integrity and unquestioned ability, somebody that’s able to see a context in the times in which they live. Not someone who’s locked into a original interpretation of the Constitution as if 1787 is the year 2000. But someone who sees the law as something that moves to adjust to the times and can do so in a way that furthers the deepest values of our country.

Source: Democrat debate in Los Angeles Mar 1, 2000

Money corrupts democracy

Q: Do you support campaign reform?
A: Money distorts the democratic process in a fundamental way. The rich in this country should be able to buy as many vacations and homes and cars as they want, but they shouldn’t be able to buy our democracy. And until we have public financing of elections -- we spend $900 million on democracy abroad, we ought to be able to spend the same amount of money to totally take the special interests out of democracy at home.
Source: Democrat Debate in Johnston Iowa Jan 8, 2000

Take special interests out of politics by banning soft money

Q: What is your position on campaign reform? A: John McCain and I said that if we were the nominees of our party, we would not take soft money in this election. We spend $900 million a year promoting democracy abroad. For about the same amount of money we probably could take the special interests out of democracy. And so far as your pharmaceutical question, less than 1% of the money that I have raised when I was running in all my Senate campaigns came from anybody connected to a pharmaceutical company.
Source: Democratic Debate in Durham, NH Jan 5, 2000

Campaign reform equals government reform

Q: Why do you care about campaign finance reform when polls show the issue is not important to voters?

A: I think it is the key to virtually everything else we do in government, and I believe in a presidential campaign it’s important to lay out a speci proposal so that the people can give you a mandate to overcome the special interests... that’s what today is all about, in addition to raising to a higher level the importance of bipartisanship

Source: Joint interview with Bradley & McCain Dec 16, 1999

Grassroots efforts are more powerful than Congress

Q: What about Congressional resistance to Campaign Reform?

A: When I said politics is broken, I thought there was way too much money in politics. The other reason was that I thought the media was too superficial and sensational. And I didn’t think enough politicians spoke their core convictions... today, the difference is that Senator McCain and I have said that if we’re the nominees, we will not accept soft money. That doesn’t require an act of Congress. That’s a commitment that we’ve made today.

Source: Joint interview with Bradley & McCain Dec 16, 1999

Campaign reform needs support from people, business, & Pres.

Q: What would you do to advance real campaign finance reform? A: No soft money; public financing of elections; free TV time for people in the last six weeks of an election. How is it going to happen? First, it requires a grassroots movement. Second, people in finance, in business, in religion and in academic life have to step forward and say, “The current system is not working, we demand a change.” And third, you need a president that is going to make campaign finance reform one of the top issues.
Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College Oct 28, 1999

Campaign reform: Free TV; mail-in voting; Voter Leave.

We need a comprehensive approach to campaign finance reform. I would provide free TV so that candidates could make their case without having to purchase television time. We should open up the process to encourage more people to participate. That means same-day registration, and voting by mail. And I would also have a Voter Leave Act, to allow people to take an hour or two off in order to vote. Joined with campaign finance reform in a kind of comprehensive democratic reform, things would change.
Source: NBC’s “Meet the Press” Aug 1, 1999

Ban soft money; it breaches “one person, one vote”

[I support] no soft money in the general election. But I wouldn’t unilaterally disarm. It takes two farsighted leaders [one from each party]. I laid this out now far before the soft money is being raised so that people could begin to focus on this. Everybody knows it’s in the public interest. We have one person, one vote, but everybody knows that the people with the big bucks, particularly in soft money, have a bigger clout in the process.
Source: NBC’s “Meet the Press” Aug 1, 1999

No PAC contributions; no “soft money” advertising

Politicians spend too much time raising money. Campaign finance reform would reduce the cynicism and skepticism that many Americans have about politics and politicians. And if I am going to advocate this reform, I have to walk my talk. So in this campaign I am not going to take any PAC contributions or set up sham state PACs, where a candidate gets big sums of money and uses it to advertise about issues he cares about but really just promotes his candidacy outside the limits.
Source: www.billbradley.com/ “On Campaign Finance Reform” 5/19/99 May 19, 1999

National gov’t needed to balance corruption of local gov’t

By 1994, after 60 years of well-meaning action, the delivery mechanism of government was covered with barnacles. Yet to argue that the best government was local government ignored the facts. Civil society was eroding locally, as well as globally. Corruption was infinitely more likely at the local level, & in an increasingly interdependent world, national government was more, not less, important. If no one made the case for national government, we had only ourselves to blame for our predicament.
Source: Time Present, Time Past, p. 54 Jan 8, 1997

Politicians seeking press is OK if not flash over substance

Every politician wants to shape opinion and determine the way the press treats him or her. A major goal of every officeholder, from president to mayor, is favorable press coverage. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as flash doesn’t replace substance or public relations substitute for effective governance. If politicians become totally unresponsive to legitimate press inquiries and instead attempt to maintain a self-serving surface, then the politician joins the game.
Source: Time Present, Time Past, p. 159 Jan 8, 1997

Amendment: political spending is not free speech

I would amend the Constitution to clarify that political money is not speech. Every state and the US Congress [could] limit spending in campaigns and contributions from any sources. I have been especially skeptical of Amendments that sought to limit rights. However, I am convinced that this amendment would protect rights by strengthening democracy. It would not limit the First Amendment, but would clarify that the right to buy an election is not a form of freedom of expression.
Source: (x-ref Civil Rights) Speech at Kennedy School of Govt Jan 16, 1996

To qualify for funding, candidates must debate

[To qualify for] the common fund and broadcast time: Any party that had received 10% of the vote in the previous two Senate elections would automatically qualify. Independent candidates and new parties would be required to obtain signatures of 5% of all eligible voters in the state. A candidate who refused to participate in at least one debate would be completely shut out. Candidates [in primaries] would be required to raise 100% of funds in contributions of $100 or less.
Source: Speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Jan 16, 1996

Voted YES on Approving the presidential line-item veto.

Approval of the presidential line-item veto authority.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)69; N)31
Reference: Conference Report on S. 4; Bill S. 4 ; vote number 1996-56 on Mar 27, 1996

Voted NO on banning more types of Congressional gifts.

To exclude certain items from the Congressional Gift Ban.
Status: Amdt Failed Y)39; N)60; NV)1
Reference: Murkowski Amdt to S. 1061; Bill S. 1061 ; vote number 1995-339 on Jul 28, 1995

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