First debate democracy

The first presidential debate on September 26 is expected to be the most watched debate in history and is quickly approaching. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump must prove to the voters who is best fit to lead our country by putting aside partisan mudslinging and presenting policies that reflect their core values to the viewing public. The most critical issue that affects all others this election is money’s influence over our elected officials, and the more than 920,000 hours members of Congress spend dialing for dollars and attending fundraisers.

Survey after survey shows money in politics is a top five concern for Americans, regardless of political party, and needs to be part of the debate. According to an Issue One poll, 81 percent of Americans agree that the influence of money in politics is worse now than at any other time in their lives. A staggering 93 percent of respondents believe that elected officials listen more to deep-pocketed donors than regular voters.

Voters are right to be skeptical and angry: Hillary Clinton raised $143 million in August alone, while Donald Trump raked in $90 million for his warchest. The top 10 Senate races have each seen more than $12 million spent by candidates and outside groups this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Will we make money in politics part of the conversation on September 26th?

It is up to NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who is moderating this year’s first presidential debate, to demand that the candidates discuss their plans for fixing our campaign finance system.

To make sure he gets the message, we are joining the Patriotic Millionaires Open Letter to Holt, which urges him to first debate democracy by questioning candidates on key issues like money in politics and voting rights.

“When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump first appear on stage together, the candidates should be forced to address the one thing that unites public opinion and that they both seem to agree on: we need to limit the control well-financed special interests’ have over politics and policymaking,” said Nick Penniman, Executive Director of Issue One.

The American people deserve answers to their concern about the role of money has in our elections and government. Clinton and Trump need to offer bold policy solutions and present a clear path forward for average Americans to have a greater say in their country’s future.

Help us urge NBC anchor Lester Holt to question the candidates about money in politics by joining the #FirstDebateDemocracy Twitter storm Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m.