Things keep getting worse for democracy. The Citizens United decision crippled previous campaign finance reform, the work of purging election rolls continues in many states, and now, the Supreme Court has lifted the lid on total campaign contributions in its recent McCutcheon decision. Billionaires are free to pour as much money as they want into the electoral process. Common sense (and experience) tells us this is wrong, that money buys elections (manipulation of the voters by advertising), and the money that buys winners also buys access to the levers of power and favorable laws drawn up by and for the wealthy.
The billionaires of which I spoke are already in action. A couple of weeks ago, several of the Republican hopefuls for the nomination in 2016 trouped off to Las Vegas to try to win billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s blessing, and his 8-figure donations. He loves the McCutcheon decision! And he’s ready to implement the ruling by buying himself a winning presidential candidate! I would ask my Republican friends…is this how you want your standard bearer in 2016 to be selected? By who can befriend the most billionaires? Or would you prefer the nomination be settled by who has the best ideas?
So how do we answer this foolish and short-sighted decision? Do we just shrug and carry on…business as usual? Do we angrily lash out in an impassioned but unfocused way? Do we propose new laws to try to correct this ruling, knowing that new election reform laws are all but doomed? OR…do we take steps to begin the long, slow, and necessary process of taking back our democracy?
I have proposed what I believe to be the ONLY possible remedy for change…the Clean Elections Amendment. It has to be a constitutional amendment, because we can very clearly see that nothing less than an amendment can stand up to the majority on the Supreme Court. And the answer can’t be simply more incremental change, like limiting donations of certain amounts from certain sources, or requiring full disclosure of all donors. It has to be a sweeping change to move all of the donors, big and small, and their agendas, out of the way. Federal funding for all federal elections is the best and, in my view, ONLY way to take back our democracy.
The only question is, do we have the guts and the tenacity to push for this change over the long term? It may take years just to get to any level of public awareness of the CEA. And if it reaches that stage, we will be in for the fight of all fights, against the most powerful people in America, who will be determined to hang onto their power at all costs.
If you see the need, and you’re ready to take action, here’s what you do. Send the text of the Clean Elections Amendment to everyone you know. Send it to any politicians at any level and see if they’re willing to champion it. Advocate for campaign finance reform on social media and in any forum you have access to.
Our forefathers decided that if they wanted democracy and self-governance, they would have to fight for it themselves. Nobody was going to just give it to them. At great personal sacrifice, they fought and won the democracy that has served us so well until it was undermined by big money. Now we have to fight to get it back! I want democracy back! Do you?
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