The Senate is scheduled to consider later today the Democracy For All Amendment to undo the damage the Republicans on the Supreme Court did with their Citizens United and other rulings that allow corporations and billionaires to purchase our elections. We the People should have the right to protect our government from being captured by the billionaires and their giant corporations.
The Democracy For All Amendment
Here is the amendment that the Senate is considering this week:
Section 1 –
“To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.”
Section 2 –
“Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.”
Section 3 –
“Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.”
Money In Politics
You may have heard about the “Citizens United” ruling by the Republicans on the Supreme Court. Citizens United was that 5-4 ruling by the Republican majority on the Supreme Court that opened the door to unlimited “corporate speech” in our elections. Combined with similar rulings and Republican obstruction on the Federal Elections Commission, our elections have been absolutely flooded with corporate/billionaire cash – much of it secret. Moneyed interests have overwhelmed the political process.
Republicans also filibustered the DISCLOSE Act that would have at least let us know who was putting money into our elections, so the source of much of the money remains secret. We don’t even get to know what countries the money is coming from.
Obviously Americans understand that the big money system shuts them out of the process and advances the agendas of billionaires and corporations. Now only special interests are heard from, because their money is deciding elections.
A Direct Effect On People’s Lives
This has a direct effect on people’s lives. This corporate/billionaire money is the reason Republicans are obstructing an increase in the minimum wage. It is the reason they obstructed efforts to help people with crushing student loan debt. It is the reason they obstructed and killed extended unemployment benefits. It is the reason they obstruct efforts to start maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, restore funding to our schools, and support scientific research, disease control and all the other basic human needs that our government is supposed to be assisting with.
Americans want a say in the government decisions that affect them and their families. The Democracy For All amendment that is before the Senate this week is designed to fix this problem of billionaire/corporate money drowning out our elections.
“No Single Issue Is More Important”
This past weekend Sens. Tom Udall and Bernie Sanders set the stage for the debate with an op-ed, “The Threat to American Democracy,” in Politico, writing,
No single issue is more important to the needs of average Americans. If we cannot control billionaires’ power to buy elections, the people elected to office will be responsive to the needs of the rich and powerful, rather than the needs of everyone else.
… On Monday, we will vote on our constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform. But we won’t stop there. We must develop an unprecedented grass-roots movement in all 50 states to make it clear to Congress and the Supreme Court that buying of elections is not what American democracy is all about.
Will This Get Coverage?
Remarkably (not!), the corporate media is giving this Senate bill very little coverage so far. Seriously, did you know this would be in front of the Senate today? This might have something to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign advertising that Citizens United has unleashed.
Call and email your local news outlets and demand they cover this.
Just The First Step
Of course this will be obstructed in the Senate – even though Republican voters support an amendment by a 26-point margin. Republican Senators will filibuster this amendment – because the big money demands that they do. In the House the Republican leadership will not allow it to be voted on at all.
But this is only the beginning of a national conversation that will lead to restoring democracy. Citizens United will eventually be overturned and money will be driven out of our politics. It is only a matter of time and effort. The fact that this is now in front of the Senate shows that our grassroots effort can succeed.
Call your senators and let them know that you want Congress (and states) to be able to set limits on money in elections so all of us can “speak” equally in our democracy. A vote on a motion to proceed to debate on the bill is scheduled for late Monday. Call your senators right now at this toll-free number: 866-937-7983. (This number courtesy of Public Citizen.)
Next, tell friends, family and your right-wing brother-in-law that this is going on right now. This is about whether billionaires and wealthy interests should be able to translate economic might directly into political power.