Democracy matters to Gettysburg College students
By Benjamin Pontz, Staff Writer
Anita Kinney travels the country to talk about politics … except that she speaks not on behalf of a candidate, nor a political party. Rather, she speaks in support of an idea: that political campaigns should be publicly financed, taking the large-scale private contributions that ostensibly sway politicians to the interests of the donors and away from the interests of their constituents.
“Public financing allows for diversity and difference of opinion,” Kinney, the national organizing director for Democracy Matters, a national non-partisan student organization advocating the removal of private money from politics, explains.
In wake of two recent landmark Supreme Court decisions, Citizens United and McCutcheon, money now flows more freely through Super PACs than ever before because the Court has held that limiting campaign contributions inhibits free speech. Undeterred, Kinney points to the success of recent state-level ballot initiatives as evidence that the American people support comprehensive campaign finance reform.
“We need a people’s movement,” she says.
Presently, her organization is focusing on connecting the campaign finance issue to other policy issues such as the environment as a way to raise awareness of the underlying problems in enacting reforms. Thus, on her recent visit to the college, Kinney and the Gettysburg College Democracy Matters club met with representatives from the Black Student Union over a “pizza and politics” lunch to discuss ways that they can work together to promote change.
“People need to stand up and not be afraid to recognize the intersectionality,” said Kinney. “Government isn’t the problem. It’s the process by which government elects people.”
On campus, the Democracy Matters club chapter is three years old and holds four events per semester in an effort to engage the student body on its goals. The chapter has participated in social media storms as well as voter turnout efforts. Mary Buckley ’19 is the club’s president, and Bruce Larson, professor of political science, is the advisor.