He has observed over 100 elections in 39 countries to ensure the quality and legitimacy of electoral process, and now former president Jimmy Carter is calling for the U.S. to return to publicly financed elections.
The 39th president won his 1976 election largely due to public financing, and he says we need to go back to the system that forces campaigns to use limited taxpayer money in their campaigns. This is a huge change from the use of super PAC dark money, which comes from unknown sources in unknown amounts, in today’s presidential election.
In an interview with former president Bill Clinton at the Atlanta meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, 91-year-old Carter said that publicly funded campaigns encourage more voter participation:
‘Personally, I’d like to see public funds used for all elections — Congress, U.S. Senate, governor and president.’
Carter placed the blame for runaway campaign dollars squarely upon the Supreme Court:
‘Stupid Citizens United decision.’
‘Another thing we could do is go back to presidential campaigns just using public funds for the general election.’
When the former Georgia peanut farmer and governor ran for the presidency, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund gave him and Gerald Ford each $20 million. The fund was financed by a $3 option on people’s federal income-tax returns. The purpose of the fund was to “level the playing field,” and it forbade private donations.
Carter commented on the climate of the 2016 election:
‘I think there’s going to be a reassessment in America by individual citizens and collectively after this election experience that we are involved in now.’
The former president said that the campaign rhetoric disgusts people:
‘I think a lot of people feel not only alienated, but kind of disgusted, with some of the campaign rhetoric and the violation of human rights as a public proposal by major candidates. And that’s something that I think is going to be corrected in the United States.’
Democratic Rep. David E. Price of North Carolina has sponsored a bill that would reform the presidential electoral system and bring it up to modern election costs. The Republicans, however, fiercely objected to his measure.
Jimmy Carter was president from 1977 to 1981 and afterward founded the Carter Center. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work:
‘To find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.’
Check out this video of former presidents Carter and Clinton talking about campaign financing:
Featured Image: Getty.
H/T: Washington Post.