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Michelle Noehren's picture

I often times sound like a broken record to my close friends and family. Give me any political issue and I’ll show you exactly how money in politics plays a significant role in its outcome. I’ll spare you my long lecture about how the role of money in our political system degrades the health of our democracy (maybe I’ll hold that for another Working Mother post) and get right to what’s been on my mind.

I truly believe that one of the biggest issues facing our country is the government’s failure to protect us from environmental toxins. There’s been more and more news about BPA found in the lining of baby formula cans and hormone disruptors found not only in the products we use on our children’s skin, but also in the products we use on our skin (while pregnant no less).  In addition, in the past several years there’s been recalls on certain children’s toys because they posed a lead exposure risk. I mean really? How can this be?

As busy working moms, it’s virtually impossible for us to read every label on every product we buy. We assume the products we buy are safe because why else would they be on the shelf in the store? Sadly, we collectively believe the government is doing more than they actually are in regulating the chemicals used in our products. The truth is there is very little regulation of toxic chemicals in America.

Want to take a guess why? Let’s revisit my theory on money in politics. Money is powerful and corporations and big businesses have a lot of it. More than me and more than you. In most arena’s money talks and in politics money talks loudly. Big companies can, and do, pay for extensive lobbying campaigns either to pass or kill legislation. They make significant contributions to political campaigns in order to have a hand in pockets of elected officials. This happens not only nationally but locally as well.

Fortunately I live in a state that passed a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill several years ago that has, and is working to, significantly reduce the effect of money in politics. Since the passage of our campaign finance reform law, Connecticut has passed dozens of pieces of legislation that protects consumers over the interests of big companies. We banned BPA in our children’s products, we created the Chemical Innovations Institute and we are on our way to creating a comprehensive plan that will evaluate common toxic chemicals and work on reducing their impact on our residents. In my personal opinion, campaign finance reform has helped make these things happen.

So as I read more & more about a big national push for environmental regulations (which I completely support) I can’t help wishing that someone would also be talking about the importance of reforming our electoral system. Money in politics should not speak louder than the voices and concerns of folks like us. If we are to finally make significant strides forward to protect the health of our families, we need to not only push for the regulation of toxic chemicals but also for the removal of money in the political system.

Blog written by Michelle Noehren for Working Mother Media

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