The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By James Shipman
Valley County Voices 

Money and Elections

 

February 7, 2018



There are many issues in the country to be addressed. Whether your issue is healthcare, climate change, education, or any others, chances are the root problem is the disproportional influence of money in our political system. This stems from the Supreme Court decisions of Buckley v Valeo and Citizen's United v FEC. These two rulings by the court have opened up the floodgates for corporate money to buy our politicians. And this is not a partisan issue. An overwhelming majority of the country reject the current system and have expressed the need for reform. Independent organizations like Wolf-PAC have rallied to radically change our system of campaign finance. Their bold idea is to amend the Constitution with an Article V convention to guarantee "free and fair" elections. This is not an easy battle to win. Big donors are actively fighting efforts to erase the influence of money in politics. Our best weapon to fight back is information.

Campaign finance isn't a new problem for American politics. In 1974, Congress amended the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 in an attempt to limit contributions made to political candidates and limit spending by the candidates. A lawsuit soon followed which found its way to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld some contribution limits but declared spending limits to be unconstitutional. The argument was that limiting the money spent limits our right to free speech. Essentially money equals speech. This promotes a huge problem. More money means more speech leaving regular American citizens out of the process.

In another disastrous move in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of corporations in the Citizens United v FEC case. The court argued that the First Amendment protects "associations" of individuals. Corporations, now being an "association," have free speech rights. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeo, limiting a corporation's ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues. In essence, money equals speech and corporations are people. This gives corporations unrivaled influence in our political sphere allowing them to drown out any opposition and push their agenda with their paid-for politicians.

Because of these decisions, super-PACs have been born to get around the few regulations left in place to limit the influence of money in politics. Now, unlimited money can be funneled to these super-PACs once contribution limits to candidates have been met. Critics predicted that the ruling would "bring about a new era of corporate influence in politics," allowing companies and businesspeople to "buy elections" to promote their financial interests. Large expenditures, usually through these PACs, come from a small group of billionaire donors (like the Koch brothers and George Soros). This effectively has taken power away from the people and given it to the donors themselves.

To many, the only way to fight back against the corporations holding our political process hostage is to ensure "free and fair" elections. Many nations throughout Europe already do this. Wolf-PAC is an organization dedicated to making this happen. Wolf-PAC has one goal: to get an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will reverse the damage that has been done by the U.S. Supreme Court around campaign finance reform because the U.S. Constitution is the only authority above the Supreme Court. While an amendment is no cure-all, it is an important step for reforming our system. This is the best way to ensure our politicians work for their citizens rather than their donors. From there, we can focus on the issues that matter and have a government, truly, for the people and by the people. To learn more about efforts made by Wolf-PAC, go to http://www.wolf-pac.com. And don't forget to call your representatives. Don't let your voice be drowned out by corporate money.

 

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