Opinion | Small-dollar donors have a large impact on races

Of the 12 Democratic campaigns Mr. Byler listed, seven won their elections with a margin of five points or less, so grass-roots donations were clearly justified. Of the remaining five, three were either tied or close in polling.

Small-dollar donations allow many candidates and incumbents to spend less time dialing for dollars. Everyone who has worked in politics knows that call time, the arduous practice of spending hours calling donors for big checks, is mandatory to pay the bills. Small-dollar donations allow candidates to spend more time working for their constituents and make them more responsive to the needs of citizens — not the millionaires in their Rolodex.

Small-dollar donations also empower transformative candidates, particularly those who don’t have access to the wealthy networks (or personal wealth) traditionally required for political access. Why exclude voices just because they can’t mount the cost of a multimillion-dollar campaign?

It’s no secret that Congress lacks diversity. Three groundbreaking women of color on the left have won their primaries thanks in large part to their inspiration of small-dollar supporters.

Yes, our democracy is facing a crisis of money in politics, but it’s not because of small-dollar donors. To expect them to overcome the crippling effects of Citizens United v. FEC $5 at a time is unreasonable.

The writer is a fundraising director at Left Rising.

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