On my son’s 18th birthday, he told me that he did not need any presents because he already got the greatest gift of all from the United States Government. He was officially a US citizen! One of the most important rights of being a citizen is involvement in elections. Unfortunately, the power of individual citizens in elections is threatened by big businesses, special interests and lack of transparency in campaign finance.
Beginning The Buy Out
In 2010, the United States Supreme Court heard a case called Citizens United vs. F.E.C. That decision ruined elections for average citizens. This decision virtually eliminated accountability and transparency in campaign finance. The court applied some faulty logic in ruling that “corporations are people” which makes no sense except to ensure that billions of dollars from big business go untraceable into campaign coffers to influence politics. These corporate “citizens” are, first and foremost, interested in making more money. After all, that is the goal of business. However, governing needs to be about more than that. Pursuit of the mighty dollar often contradicts the role of government in protecting “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness“.
What’s the Answer?
Obviously, the easiest solution is to overturn the Citizens United decision. However, that is a short term fix for what is going to be an ongoing problem. There is a PAC called End Citizens United which has a longer term strategy. ECU champions a Constitutional amendment that would reverse Citizens United thus preventing any future similar situations. This solution represents a permanent fix to campaign financing inequities and limits the role of big money in our government.
Making this work is going to take a lot. ECU started by supporting candidates from all parties that support meaningful campaign finance reform. End Citizens United hopes that by working to elect officials that believe in a government by and for the people they can get the law changed. More importantly, electing sympathetic representatives is the first step in getting an amendment to the Constitution putting a permanent stop to buying elections.
How Can I Help?
First, go to the End Citizens United website and see where your state candidates stand on campaign finance reform. The group has a questionnaire that they ask candidates to fill out especially if ECU is going to donate to their campaign. This way you will understand if the person you are supporting is a champion of campaign finance reform.
Second, ask your representatives to support reform. If they don’t already support this type of legislation let them know that you want them to change that.
Third, get involved! Tell your friends and neighbors about the issue. Be brave and bold about your support for meaningful campaign finance reform and bring an end to the buying of elections.