Here we are at the start of a new year. A new decade, no less. Fresh beginnings, endless possibilities. Hello, 2020!

I am determined to embrace the moment. In addition to my own personal reflections, I’ve been thinking about changes, fundamental changes, needed on the national level.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

In particular, I have been thinking about just how much of the recent slew of awful – be it the FAA not grounding planes they knew they should have, catastrophic climate events or saber-rattling on a nuclear scale – really comes down to one thing: greed.

“You can’t legislate morality.” I know. I agree. What we can do, however, is use legislation to establish what is, and is not, acceptable behavior in our society and punish violations of it. Murder and theft continue to be sad realities, but we do not throw our hands in the air and say, “Well, nothing to be done about it.”

Likewise, I’d like to see us take a real crack at campaign finance reform.

After all, if we are aiming for just legislation on issues, it makes sense to start with the legislators themselves.

According to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan nonprofit with a mission to “produce and disseminate peerless data and analysis on money in politics,” with the first reports of the new year in, presidential campaigns have raised a staggering total of $624.4 million.

That’s obscene.

Now, by far the greatest single portion of that has been raised by the current incumbent, $165,671,189 of it, to be exact. But this is genuinely not a partisan issue. After all, the remainder of that staggering sum was raised by those running on the other side. Heck, the seventh-largest fundraiser took in well over $17 million.

I worked in campaigns. I understand the need to raise the funds. There are lawn signs to be bought, ads to be run and staff to be paid – among other expenses. Money at its most basic is simply a tool, and money makes the operation run. In its most positive, money allows the candidate to communicate their ideas and policies to the highest number of people.

However, it does not seem like a giant leap to suggest that these funds could be put to better use in service to the actual changes the candidates support. Imagine for a moment if all those who qualify were granted equal and balanced access to the airwaves, print and commercial time – freeing actual dollars raised by the campaign to be put towards the policies and programs they claim in their platforms.

You say you’re for stronger, healthier communities? Great! Here’s my $20. Combine it with all the other donations and show me how you’ll do it. Build new parks? Fund existing programs you believe in? Form a think tank? Establish scholarships for future community planners? We the voters could see their leadership choices in real time and see our communities gain, whether our candidate wins or loses.

I realize that this sort of seismic shift would require massive system overhaul, and I realize this is highly unlikely. Particularly since those who would need to make this change are the ones who benefit most from the system the way it is.

And yet, “the way it is” is so fundamentally flawed, so obviously broken and so clearly failing to serve the people, regardless of party or political affiliation, that we must, simply must, take it apart and create something new. We must continue to strive to create a more perfect union.

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