Why get money out of Politics?Posted: March 18, 2012
In 1976, in a decision known as Buckley v. Valeo, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the spending of money by individuals on direct advertising in support of political campaigns was a constitutionally protected form of free speech, essentially decreeing that money equals speech. In 2010, the Court expanded upon this even further in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ruling that corporations, labor unions and trade associations, as well as individual citizens, could all make unlimited contributions to tax exempt political action committees now known as SuperPACs.
Through these decisions, we believe that, on the issue of who gets elected to public office in our country, the court has dangerously shifted the balance of influence away from individual voters and in favor of a combination of extremely wealthy individuals and – more importantly – artificial legal entities that were never intended by the framers of the Constitution to be the beneficiaries of the all the same rights that we, as actual living, breathing persons, enjoy under that document.
2012 marks the first major national election carried out fully under the rules shaped by the Citizens decision. An examination of FEC filings reveals that typically 97%-99% of large superpacs’ receipts are by donors giving $25,000 or more and there are dozens of donations of $1,000,000 or more. It is not difficult to envision that future races could be decided by a very small group of moneyed interests who pick their horses and place their bets. That’s not a representative democracy, that’s an oligarchy.
Yes we’d all like to believe that Americans are smarter than that, that they study the candidates, weigh the issues and make informed decisions, but the facts say otherwise. The Center for Responsive Politics analyzed congressional elections over the last six election cycles and found that 93% of House races and 83% of Senate races were won by the candidates who spent the most money. This should come as no surprise. It is simply evidence that “advertising works.”
An activist Supreme Court has legislated from the bench that our elected representatives are to be more responsive to those who finance their campaigns than to individual voters. It is up to us as individuals to overturn that outrageous decision or suffer the consequences.
Through this site you can:
View the resolution proposed for consideration by the San Juan County Council, calling for a constitutional amendment to roll back the Citizens United decision.