Presidential candidate Michael Bennet talks widespread democratic reform at Peterborough event

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.) spoke at the Hilltop Golf Course function room in Peterborough on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.) spoke at the Hilltop Golf Course function room in Peterborough on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.) spoke at the Hilltop Golf Course function room in Peterborough on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.) spoke at the Hilltop Golf Course function room in Peterborough on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/20/2019 6:05:40 PM

Presidential candidate Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.) spoke as part of a Democracy Town Hall series at the Hilltop Golf Course function hall in Peterborough on Friday. The series was hosted by Open Democracy Action and Equal Citizens, and 26 people attended.

“We’re at an existential inflection point in the history of democracy,” Bennet said, and cited political reform as an essential first step before the country could make any meaningful progress on issues such as climate change, or even basic infrastructure improvements.

Bennet highlighted a number of items that he believes makes him the 2020 candidate with the farthest reaching political reform agenda, including overturning Citizens United, supporting ranked-choice voting at a federal level, cutting down on gerrymandering and lobbying, and automatically registering citizens to vote at age 18.

“It was a baptism by fire,” Bennet said, of beginning his political career in the wake of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision that ruled the government couldn’t restrict independent expenditures for political communications. He described winning two national elections in a swing state that involved “immense spending by the Koch Brothers.” He said that, on his first day as President, he would start work to overturn the Citizens United decision. He wouldn’t stop there, though. Bennet said he’​​​​​​​s ultimately for publicly funding elections, “​​​​​​​but it’​​​​​​​ll be a while before we get that at a national level.”​​​​​​​

“Big donors come with problems, small donors come with problems,” he said, and that candidates funding their campaigns entirely with small donations  could be in danger of “making promises that can’t be fulfilled.” 

Bennet said he’s the only candidate in the 2020 election that supports rank-choice voting at a federal level. He said he sees it as a method of reducing the political polarization of the country, and explained that he wouldn’t mandate it, but would like to see financial incentives for areas of the country that adopt it.

“The last Gilded Age did not end itself in America,” Bennet said, “It was done by small groups like this one 100 years ago.” He referenced his track record of introducing anti-gerrymandering legislation and his proposal of banning former congressmen and women from becoming lobbyists in Washington, DC. “Over half the people who leave Congress and don’t retire become lobbyists,” he said. 

The Senator pointed to Colorado’s second-highest voter turnout rates in the nation in 2018, citing the state’s policies of automatic voter registration and mail-in ballots as policies he’d like to see expanded.  When an attendee asked whether he’d support lowering the voter age to 16, Bennet said he hadn’t considered it, but would have to think about it, in light of the judgment he’s seen his 14 year-old daughter exercise. 

Bennet lives in Denver, Colorado and has served as a U.S. Senator since 2009. He was a school superintendent before launching his political career. In New Hampshire, he is polling at 0.0 percent in the most recent WBUR/MassINC poll. He said that if he didn’t win the Democratic nomination, he would run again for Senate and continue to fight for the reforms he outlined. 




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