Last night, at the opening dinner of the Yearly Kos Convention in Chicago, Senator Dick Durbin gave a taped welcome to the 1,500 people in attendance. What did he spend his time discussing? His Fair Elections Now Act!
Sen. Durbin also promoted the conversation he's had with bloggers, activists and advocates around the establishment of legislation to set a national broadband policy. The conversation has taken place online (where else?) at OpenLeft.com. While Senator Durbin's remarks were delivered to the crowd, I was sitting with Matt Stoller, a well-respected blogger and all around smart guy, who co-runs OpenLeft.com. The similarity between what we're doing -- breaking down the barriers between voters and the people we elect by reducing the influence of money in politics and the constant fundraising -- is directly similar to what Matt and Sen. Durbin and hundreds of others engaged in online with the broadband discussion: it wasn't lobbyists from telecom companies writing policy at OpenLeft.com. It was regular people and advocates who weren't getting access with their donations.
And so when Sen. Durbin spoke of his commitment to the Fair Elections Now Act and his commitment to passing real reform of the political system, he was talking about it in the context of bringing people back into politics.
That's exactly the right message for the convention and exactly the right message for Americans sick and tired of bought and paid for politics. I'll be speaking on a panel on Saturday morning to discuss it further with conference participants.