Below are links to House and Senate candidate contracts (CFARs) that can be either downloaded or printed out to hand to a candidate you want to have sign it. First, RAP committee member John Rachel explains the practical considerations of a CFAR to help you sell its effectiveness to candidates for national office.
Remember, these contracts up for negotiation between you the voter and the candidate seeking your support. The idea is for candidates to use these to win elections and for the people to know the successful candidate will have to fulfill the contacts items within 180 days of taking office. While the proposed candidate contracts may or may not be enforceable in a court of law, we intend to organize enforcement efforts for the listed provisions with the signers, who win their elections, in the court of public opinion.
House of Representative CFARs to either print or download:
Senate CFARs to print or download:
The CFAR acronym has a number of possible meanings leverage activists can use depending on the congressional district. It is up to local CFAR candidate to determine which word to use for the R, but we recommend use of the C-FAR (see far) acronym in one of these versions.
- Contract For American Renewal (for red districts)
- Contract For American Reform (for purple districts)
- Contract For American Reformation (also for purple districts)
- Contract For American Revolution (for blue districts)
Making the candidate contract the centerpiece of a populist campaign can be decisive — it can win elections!
It’s crucial to recognize, the candidate contract by embracing a number of pivotal populist policies, then requiring focused and unwavering dedication by whoever signs the contract to inaugurate those policies, is not intended to constrain or control the ‘good guy’ populist candidate. These items are the things he or she would do anyway if elected. In fact, within each district the ‘good guy’ populist candidates themselves each tailor the contract for their particular constituents, literally designing the contract he or she can and will deliver on.
While our template lists eleven issues where vast majorities of Americans want decisive action, we recommend, that based on a familiarity and understanding of each local voting jurisdiction, only those “wedge” issues unique to a particular district and the campaign taking place there, be included in the contract for that district. It’s hardly necessary or even productive to put an entire campaign platform in the contract. Less is more. Three to eight decisive issues is sufficient. Just enough to defeat the establishment opponents and assure victory.
For example, if the demographic is relatively older, Social Security and Medicare likely would be incorporated, whereas free college education may not be consequential enough to include. If the demographic is young and working class, most likely the $15 per hour minimum wage clause should be adopted. And so on.
The ‘good guy’ populist candidate must know where the voters stand, and fashion his or her candidate contract accordingly. Specifically, he or she is looking for those pivotal, high-visibility issues which have major voter support, but are not championed by the opposition candidates! If an incumbent has, for example, voted in Congress against an increase in the minimum wage, and there’s enormous support among low wage voters locally, that divergence is exactly what the populist candidate is targeting.
We can’t stress this enough . . .
The contract should identify those issues with popular local support which differentiate him or her from their opponents. The progressive candidate is on the side of the people, whereas the opponents — establishment/centrist/neoliberal candidates from either major party — are on the wrong side of these issues.
This now points us to how the candidate contract weaponizes the populist’s campaign.
The contract draws a massive, unmistakable line in the sand. The populist is on one side — the side of the people — and his or her opponents are on the other side. The populist candidate offers the voters something substantial, powerful, unprecedented, a guarantee in writing in the form of an ethically and perhaps legally-binding contract, declaring in no uncertain terms, what he or she will be doing from day one when arriving in Washington DC, for those same voters who voted them into office.
What can the establishment candidates put on the table? More vague promises, more empty rhetoric, more nice campaign slogans and pleasant sound bites?
Recognize this . . .
Establishment candidates cannot and will not sign the contract. Why? Because if they do, they will lose the fat checks from their deep-pocketed campaign donors — corporations, Wall Street, big banks, the ruling elite — and the corrupt pay-for-play major parties will withdraw their support as well. The major party campaign machine will be put to what they judge as better use supporting someone who knows how their bread gets buttered.
Thus, the establishment candidates effectively surrender to the populist candidate exactly what’s needed to put up a great fight and turn the tables. The candidate contract becomes a weapon of mass destruction which can be aimed at the opposition, to gain the advantage and turn the whole campaign on its head.
The candidate contract, used properly and relentlessly, destroys the message, credibility, viability of anyone who won’t sign on the dotted line.
Without any hesitation, it should be displayed proudly and prominently at every public event.
“Here it is, good people. My guarantee to you the voters. Look at this! This is not some wishy washy campaign promise. It’s an ethically and perhaps legally-binding contract, spelling out in precise detail what I’ll be doing for you, the voters, when I arrive in Washington DC. That’s my signature there at the bottom.”
The other side of that is at every public appearance, town hall meeting, press event, photo op, the establishment candidates should be confronted with their lack of courage, honesty, and commitment to voters. Using the candidate contracts, they should be called out by campaign and citizen activists who want real action, not posturing and prevarication.
We’re dead serious!
Vilify, demonize, discredit the establishment candidates for their disloyalty to the people. If they were serious about serving the vast majority of citizens, they’d sign on the dotted line. Not signing the contract means only one thing: They’re blowing smoke. All their nice-sounding speeches and wonderful TV ads are just more vaporous, hollow blather.
Let me offer three examples. Use your imagination and you’ll come up with many more.
Get the FightFor15 crowd at campaign rallies for the ‘bad guy’ candidate. Wave signs that say: Why won’t you sign the contract for the $15 minimum wage so I can afford to live?
Line up old people on the sidewalk in front of his campaign headquarters. Beautiful old folks in rockers, wheel chairs, leaning on aluminum walkers. Have them wearing t-shirts saying: Why won’t you sign the contract to protect my Social Security and Medicare? Make sure the local press and TV stations are there to cover the geriatric insurrection.
Have the Veterans For Peace and Code Pink at his or her campaign rallies. Hold up big banners: Why won’t you sign the contract to bring the troops home from Afghanistan? No more American soldiers in body bags!
Is this negative? Is this mean?
No, it’s not negative. And it’s not mean. It’s a public service. Voters need to know what they’re getting when they vote for someone. If that person won’t come clean, then we need to come clean for them. Not signing the contract is a BIG DEAL! It’s a BIG RED FLAG! Voters deserve to know.
Especially with incumbents, it’s absolutely our public duty to call them out on their false claims and excuses. They haven’t in the past demonstrated a basic understanding of their duties and responsibilities to their constituents. And judging from their refusal to sign a simple, straightforward contract — which reflects the will of majorities of citizens across the nation on issues that have now reached crisis levels — these establishment candidates will not in the future be working for the everyday people of this country. Instead they’ll be working for the Wall Street banks, the multinational corporations, the rich and powerful. Instead of passing the legislation to address the critical problems we face, they’ll be drumming up more campaign contributions for their next run for office.
The candidate contract allows honest, committed ‘good guy’ candidates who have integrity and are willing to answer directly to the good folks who elected them, to blow off the doors of calculated deception and treachery, and expose the corruption that has become endemic in American politics. Corruption which silences the voice of the people and locks everyday citizens out — individuals just like you and us — preventing us from participating in our democratic form of government.
At the same time, it opens other doors. And through those doors will walk representatives who represent, public servants who serve the public, determined, hard-working elected officials who will begin reinstating accountability, transparency and integrity, to a good system gone bad — a unique promise of self-rule by all citizens, corrupted and co-opted by the crushing anti-democratic forces of unlimited money in politics, and unchallenged power by an autocratic ruling elite.
It’s time we fight back. #CFARorGreen leverage and candidate contracts are the weapons of choice.