Unless you have been living in Newt Gingrich’s moon colony, you have heard of SuperPacs spending tens of millions of dollars in the GOP presidential candidate race.
The cause of this is the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Citizens United v the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that corporations are people and money is speech. The effect is that corporations and billionaires are able to spend as much money as they want on adverting to assist the candidate of their choice.
Advertising influences elections, negative advertising is most effective. Using their money, the wealthy can “buy” the election for candidates they feel will be most likely to be in their camp. Of course, they expect a return on investment. The other side of coin is that candidates who vote in ways they do not like will be targeted for an extensive “negative” advertising assault.
If they are successful, we will return to what is known as the gilded age, when big business controlled the country. Montana knows what this can do and 100 years ago the lawmakers passed laws to prohibit corporate money in elections. Given their history, the Montana Supreme Court upheld that law in a recent decision. SCOTUS has overruled their position. Two of the dissenting Justices would like the court to visit the issue again.
Following are a selection of article and explanations about the Citizens United vs FEC.
An animation from the Story of Stuff Project (You will find other informative videos by these animators at this site.)
Columnist E.J. Dione speaks out against the decision in
Senator Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken opponent of Citizens United. In the article in the Huffington Post he explains.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has also been campaigning against the money in politics and points out it potential impact on the legislature in:
Representative McGovern has introduced a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United. He tells us his thoughts in a video.
Many efforts are underway to nullify the court’s decision. One of the prime responders is ‘Move to Amend.” Bill Moyers supports Move to Amend in the following video.
Now that you know what Citizens United has done, what is your opinion. Is it all right for corporations and the wealthy to have this much influence in elections? Most Republican politicos think it is good, apparently because they see their party as the main beneficiary of the money. Only one republican politician is among sponsors of bills to change Citizens United.
Most independents and Democratic politicos decry it as selling our country to the highest bidder.
However, several polls have shown that the majority of American citizens are not happy with the court:
Citizens United (2011)
If you think Citizen United is bad for the country, perhaps you can help. Move to Amend, Sharrod Brown and others have petitions to sign and organizations to join.
If you live in Northern Colorado, you should plan on attending the program offered on Saturday, Feb. 25, by the League of Women Voters of Larimer County. The speaker will be Ken Gordon, former state senator and founder of CleanSlateNow.org and a Colorado advocate of getting the money out of politics. The meeting will be in Loveland at 1 p.m. at the All Saints Episcopal Church. Complete details here.