Imagine stepping into a polling booth and voting for candidates who, instead of being bought and paid for by corporations, unions, or wealthy donors, are financed by public funds, and accountable to you and other citizens.
Sounds utopian, doesn't it? Well, clean-money elections already exist in Maine and Arizona, states too small to challenge the nation's political culture. But public financing of state elections and initiatives this fall just might expand to California, a state so large and influential that every major policy decision tends to influence the rest of the nation.
When Betty Dukes, a 56-year-old African-American Wal-Mart worker in Pittsburg, California, first read about Sam Walton, the founder of the world's largest retailer, she felt inspired. “I learned that Sam Walton had a profound vision and started Wal-Mart on a faith venture,” she said. “I have always deeply appreciated his visionary spirit and his efforts to reach for the stars.” Never did she imagine that she'd become the lead plaintiff in a class-action sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart.