According to the former U.S. ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer, the No. 1 issue concerning citizens should be the future of America’s democracy and the fate of the republic. Roemer believes it is the job of the citizens to help restore democracy, repair the damage left behind and rebuild the democratic process.
“Whether you’re concerned about the number of guns, or protecting the right to bear arms, or climate change, or the cost of education, Issue One has to be the fate of our democracy and the future of our republic,” Roemer said.
Roemer will end the weeklong theme of “Money and Power” at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater with his lecture on how special-interest money overtook politics and how that issue can be resolved to bring power back to the people.
Roemer served as a representative for Indiana’s third congressional district for six terms. As a former member of Congress, Roemer said he can bring a level of personal experience into his lecture.
“The system is terribly broken,” Roemer said. “There’s not one single silver bullet that could solve it, but there are tangible, practical, reachable solutions.”
Roemer currently serves as senior strategic adviser for Issue One’s Reformers Caucus, a group comprised of more than 60 former members of Congress and former governors from both parties.
The group aims to increase public awareness and offer solutions to refine big money’s dominance in U.S. politics. It relates to the idea that big-money donors have more power in politics than the constituents of the representatives in Congress.
“The tsunami of special-interest money flooding our system is causing people to believe that donors have more influence than voters,” Roemer said. “When that happens and we lose trust in our system, people don’t vote.”
Roemer said there are a number of reasons the political system has reached the point where money dominates government processes.
Some of those reasons include the amount of money it takes to run for Congress and the amount of time congressmen spend fundraising, rather than focusing on legislation.
“Imagine if you’re a doctor, and you’re spending half your time on financial issues rather than with your patients,” Roemer said.
As a result, Roemer believes people are losing trust in the government due to the corruption of big money. That creates a recipe for disaster for a democracy and a crisis for the government system.
Roemer, however, remains optimistic and will spend much of the lecture addressing five fundamental steps to increasing trust in the government and decreasing the power of campaign donors. His main focus is campaign reform.
“In America, we have always tackled big problems, and we’ve always come up with solutions,” Roemer said. “This time it’s no different. We have solutions. We know how to get this done. We have identified practical, bipartisan answers.”
Roemer hopes to encourage Chautauquans to get involved and take action to stop the corruption of big money in politics and bring the power back to the people, for whom the government was originally established for by the Founding Fathers.
“The only way to restore our great republic is for the people to do it,” Roemer said. “Chautauqua has a rich and vibrant history of citizen education and, more importantly, citizen action.”