Just back from a week long trip in Mexico where Common Cause is working with a number of Mexican civil society groups on important government accountability campaigns.  The "cool tactic" award goes to my friends at Alianza Civica, a group led by the very creative, smart, and funny Rogelio Gomez Hermosillo.  Alianza works on many of the same issues that Common Cause does in the US.  Their campaign "Ya Bajensele" (lower it already!) is about reducing the amount of money the Mexican government gives directly to the political parties.  This makes the parties the primary player in choosing candidates and makes it tougher for average Mr. Smith goes to Washington types to jump into the race and give voters more choices.  

Rogelio's group staged a 24 hour event in front of a government building where they hooked up a bicycle to a spot light.  Over three hundred riders pedaled the bike to keep the light shining on the campaign sign for a whole day..even a few reporters covering the story took a turn.  The result of the stunt was significant coverage in some major Mexican press and more public attention and understanding of the issue.  Tactics are tough, too goofy and you get made fun of and do a disservice to your campaign.  Too boring you get ignored, I think Rogelio and Alianza Civica got it just right on this one and had some fun too.

  We have some of the same problems in the United States in terms of the political parties having excess influence over who gets to run for office.  Prior to the passage of the Common Cause supported campaign finance bill in 2002 (McCain Feingold Bill), parties were all powerful in choosing candidates because they had the bucks to fund their campaigns making it prohibitive for those who were not politically connected to afford to run.   McCain Feingold limited the amount of money parties could accept from special interests...it was unlimited prior to that time.  Now we are contending with the ramifications of the recent Supreme Court decision entitled, "Citizens United."  The decision overturns over 100 year of campaign finance law that prohibited corporation from making political contributions directly to political candidates  from their treasuries.  That was what the showdown was about between President Obama and Justice Alito during the State of the Union Address. Check out the Common Cause report to learn more about the decision and its impact.

Thanks Laureen. I would like to say that the funny idea was of Andres Lajous, and we are all together in this exciting, fun and relevant issue of reforming and decrasing public financing of parties. Just to let everybody understand, this year only from federal budget political parties will get $250 million for "ordinary activities". There is no federal election this year and since 2007, it is forbidden to buy TV or radio time for political campaigns. What do they do with this huge amount of money? Ya Bajenle (Decrease it now!!!!)


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