About Save Democracy in America
Save Democracy in America is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with one goal: to build support among Americans of all political persuasions for the Democracy Dollars campaign finance reform. Our concrete near-term goal is to persuade the House Ways and Means Committee to hold hearings on Rep. Ro Khanna’s Democracy Dollars Act.
Democracy Dollars was invented by two Yale Law School professors, Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres, in their book Voting with Dollars (Yale University Press). The concept is straightforward: right now, the biggest problem with our political system is that election campaigns are extremely expensive, and candidates get the money for their campaigns from the people who have it – big business and a small number of very wealthy individuals (organized labor donates a significant but much smaller fraction of this money). These high-dollar campaign donors are the only Americans with real influence in our politics. If they want to stay in office, politicians no longer listen to the voters. They listen to their donors.
We will fix this problem by letting the voters be the donors who really count. For every federal election, the government would give each registered voter an online account of campaign cash – $100 per voter in presidential election years, $50 for the cheaper congressional midterms. The voters can’t spend this money for personal use. Instead, they will be able to go online and send these Democracy Dollars to the candidates they want to support. Every competent candidate will be able to fund a fully competitive campaign with money from the voters, and no candidate will have any excuse for taking big donations from special interests. If any candidate does, his or her opponent can say: “My opponent would rather serve pressure groups than serve the American people.” Everyone will still be allowed to donate as much as they want, but any candidate who takes big money from outside the Democracy Dollars system will pay a heavy political price. Once they get to Washington, our politicians will serve us, the American people, the way it’s supposed to work in a democracy.
Big money has not only taken your vote away. It has broken our political system. There are thousands of major donors, and each one has some ability to block policies they don’t like. The result is a government which is enormously wasteful and can’t get anything done, so it doesn’t even work for the donors. For example, we can’t make healthcare cheaper because insurance companies and drug manufacturers use their political clout to keep costs high and ensure their profits, and we can’t cut the cost of doctors’ malpractice insurance, because trial lawyers make major campaign contributions. Since they know that politicians don’t listen to them and don’t respect them, the American people are very angry about politics, and they turn their anger on Americans who belong to the opposing political party. Because neither politicians nor the media explain the money problem, most of us do not understand that other Americans are not our enemy – our enemy is the money which broke our government and stole our vote.
Save Democracy in America is not against any individual or any party. Through our crusade, we expect to unite Americans of all parties, races and creeds. We all deserve a voice in our government, and the democratic ideal is the essence of American patriotism. Democracy, above all, made this country great. The democratic patriotism of the American people will be our salvation, as it has been so many times in our history.
About Dan McMillan:
Founder and Executive Director of Save Democracy in America is Dan McMillan, a writer based in New York City.
Dan has a Ph.D. in German history from Columbia University, and a law degree from Fordham. He has worked as a book editor, as a history professor, and as a prosecuting attorney.
Dan left his job at the Brooklyn DA’s office to become a writer. In 2014 he published his first book, the acclaimed How Could This Happen: Explaining the Holocaust. It explains, in an engaging journalistic style, what scholars like Dan have discovered about why the Holocaust happened. Learn more at Dan’s personal website: www.drdanmcmillan.com.
In 2014 Dan began writing a book about money in politics, but decided in 2020 that direct political action was more urgently needed, and established Save Democracy in America.
In his youth Dan was a dedicated rock climber. He has climbed El Capitan three times, and he excelled in the practice of free soloing – climbing without a safety rope. Dan doesn’t scare easy, which is a good thing, as it will take determination for us to reclaim our democracy and fix our broken politics.
Before launching Save Democracy in America, Dan McMillan was a Democrat. He supported Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 primary, because Warren at least talked about the problem of money in politics, although she never offered a solution. After founding our organization, Dan changed his voter registration from Democrat to Independent, and will not support any candidate, or any policy other than Democracy Dollars, until our victory is won. For this reason, Dan did not vote in 2020. Dan also did not vote in 2016 because he was disgusted by Hillary Clinton’s lack of respect for the voters, as seen in her “basket of deplorables” remarks about Donald Trump’s supporters.
Help Dan break the tyranny of big money in politics, and make our government work for all Americans. Please donate at least $5, and visit the How You Can Help page to see other ways you can support our crusade.
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 Khanna’s staff drafted this bill in consultation with Profs. Ackerman and Ayres, who had invented the Democracy Dollars concept, and it was introduced in the House in 2018 and referred to the House Administration and Ways and Means Committees, but no further action has been taken. You can find the text of Khanna’s bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/7306/text.