What’s the function of an election in which there’s no choice of candidate? I’m not talking about Putin’s Russia or Communist China; unfortunately - unbelievably - there is no choice of candidate for hundreds of supposedly elected posts across the USA, where entrenched incumbents face literally zero opposition.

It would be one thing if satisfaction with politics was on the upswing, and there was no real crisis of confidence in our leaders or system of government. But that’s not the case. According to recent survey data, Americans are pessimistic about the direction of the country and more skeptical than ever that our elected leaders are up to the challenge of addressing the very serious challenges we face; Gallup’s daily tracking shows that 60 percent of the country feels America is going in the wrong direction. And yet still, thousands of politicians at every level of government are elected unopposed.

ADVERTISEMENT
And I mean every level. While many of these ‘coronations’ happen in state or local politics, an astounding 21 members of the United States Congress ran without any opposition in the 2014 mid-term elections - 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. This is despite the fact that three quarters of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to a recent survey commissioned by NBC and the Wall Street Journal.

Do these unopposed races indicate that there were no capable candidates in these districts (or even outside) with good ideas or a passion for fixing the country? Of course not. America is brimming with brilliant and intelligent problem-solvers, many of whom dedicate their lives to serving the public and working for important causes.

The problem is a general feeling of hopelessness in the political process and an overwhelming sense that when it comes to elections, the (regrettably) most important part of it - the ‘money race’ - is already rigged to favor the rich and powerful. The consequence is a further whittling away of faith and a downward spiral of despondency about democracy.

There are many people and organizations working to develop and promote political reforms that could help fix these (and other) aspects of our broken political system. But we don’t have to wait for big constitutional change: we can actually help address some of these problems today, within the system we have. And by “we”, I mean, er...you.

You have the power. We collectively have the power. The key, as in many things political these days, is money. The only way that candidates will come forward to challenge entrenched incumbents is if they are well-funded. But it’s a chicken and egg situation: who wants to fund a candidate that’s likely to lose?

What if we could break that cycle though? What if we could direct funds to potential challengers to unopposed candidates before they step forward, as an incentive for them to do so?  What if we could guarantee funding today for challengers to the Unopposed 21 in the general election in 2016?

Now, with Crowdpac, we can. Citizens from across the country can pledge money to ensure that the 21 Unopposed members of Congress in 2014 face a real challenge in 2016. It’s a crowdfunding campaign to make sure every voter has a choice and every member of Congress is accountable. You can make a pledge to a fund that will attract challengers to these unopposed candidates. Your card will only be charged if a viable opponent emerges. After the last filing deadline, we’ll distribute all the crowdsourced contributions evenly among the challengers who successfully advance to the general election. You can pledge to support challengers to all 21 Unopposed, just Democrats or just Republicans – it’s up to you.

By pledging today, you can help ensure a general election challenger in every district by letting potential candidates know they'll have the money to mount a viable campaign.

We founded Crowdpac to give politics back to people; to help put power in everyone’s hands. Our ‘Unopposed’ campaign is the latest example. Surely a ballot without candidates is just a decree? That’s not democracy. Go to crowdpac.com and check out the 21 Unopposed, then make a pledge today.

If you care about our democracy, and want to make sure that every citizen has a real choice at the next election for Congress, please join our campaign - and join the conversation on Twitter using #UnopposedWTF.  Together we can show that ‘We the People’ really does mean something in America today.

Hilton is the CEO and co-founder of Crowdpac. He previously was senior adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron.