Lynn Abbott: Limit election money

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Before putting the campaign season of 2012 on the dusty shelves of memory, let’s consider the vast amount of money spent and its effect. As I look back, this campaign was often as much about money as candidates and issues. News releases compared the amounts raised by campaigns as if they were deciding factors a voter should consider. Additionally, we heard daily reports on the millions pouring into super PACs and “social welfare” groups.

This money fueled endlessly repetitive TV and radio ads, which were mostly negative, often inaccurate and sometimes flat-out lies. Because these outside groups cannot work with the candidates, nobody was accountable. At least when a candidate says “My name is so-and-so and I approve this message,” the candidate and the campaign have a motivation to ensure they are telling the truth.

The effects of these ads were even worse than their actual content. The constant repetition convinced viewers and listeners that they knew and understood the issues without doing any in-depth reading or research on their own, and they began parroting those half-truths as their own beliefs. Fact-checking was sidelined. The negativity carried from the TV and radio into daily conversations and often made civil discourse impossible, further polarizing our already polarized electorate.

Lastly, I hate to think of the payback expected of winning legislators and officials — phones will be ringing in January with the contributors of those millions demanding policies for which they paid. Fortunately, most of those millions were invested in losing campaigns — but I don’t kid myself that those investors will stop trying to buy influence in our government as long as they legally can. They are undoubtedly already making plans for 2014.

It is clear to me that something has to change, and I’m not alone. According to a 2012 Associated Press poll, 81 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents and 85 percent of Democrats want to limit corporate, union and other outside spending on campaigns. Our own state of Colorado proudly voted by 74 percent in favor of campaign finance limits. With such bipartisan support nationwide, we must mobilize and make this happen now.

Our best first step is a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which granted personhood to corporations and unions, allowing them to spend unlimited money for or against a candidate. To me it is clear — and many agree — that for-profit corporations are not people; they are legal entities formed for business purposes and their primary goal is financial gain rather than civic responsibility. The Citizens United decision was used as a precedent in a second case, SpeechNow.org v. FEC, giving individuals a green light to contribute unlimited funds to super PACs. This case also allows unrestricted donations to “social welfare” organizations, which are the worst because they are not even required to publish their donors.

How do we amend the constitution? Two-thirds of each chamber of Congress must vote for the amendment and it must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. According to Peter Schurman, of McClatchy-Tribune, we are well on our way: 67 U.S. senators, 290 U.S. representatives and 10 states are on board. We can do this! We already have bipartisan, grass-roots support across the nation. Please contact Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Scott Tipton and ask for their support.

If you would like to participate locally, contact me at labbottsbt@q.com. I am eager to hear and compile your ideas. Together, we can develop a strong local advocacy group on this issue.

As I said above, overturning Citizens United is only the first step in limiting the effect of big money on our elections and our government. We will have more work to do, which I’ll address in a later piece.

Lynn Abbott

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Fred Duckels 1 year, 10 months ago

Let's not forget the tens of billions in free stuff that O bought the election with taxpayer money. Kick the stockholders out of the auto companies and give it to the unions with billions that will never be repayed. Free health care and contraception for all. Stay on parents health care until 26. Forgive student loans. Make immigration a cakewalk. Sounds like a sweet deal to shortsighted voters. I predict that we are watching the dismantling of America.

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Let's not forget all those little countries who would rather maintain their own autonomy, rather than joining Sino-America Inc. What do they know? Praise the Rothschild's!! Go World Bank!! Onward Christian Soldiers!!

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bill schurman 1 year, 10 months ago

Fred, I do not know your age, but surely, you'll reject Social Security and Medicare when the time comes.

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mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

So its OK to suppress my pollitical speech by limiting the amount I can spend.

But...

It's not OK to suppress Juan and Pablo's pollitical speech by asking for a freakin ID at the polls?

Ever ask yourselves WHY people pay such enormous sums of cash to have influence over politicians? Because politicians have influence over such enormous range of issues. Perhaps people might be less inclined to pay so dearly for the opportunity to influence politicians if we had the good sense to LIMIT POLITICIANS POWER. Something we actually have the right to do.

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Fred Duckels 1 year, 10 months ago

Bill, Social Security etc is the only game in town but suppose it was set up like a 401k so that your idol could not buy votes with my money. Years ago I predicted the fall of the USSR because they ran the operation in a manner that would destroy any business or individual. I see the us heading in same directon and we are on borrowed time..I see frustration mounting as never before.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 10 months ago

The real destruction of the United States will be caused by the same reason Rome fell. The moral decay of it's citizens. All the other problems are symptoms of the disease.

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Jerry -- The Roman Empire WAY overextended itself, clear up to Great Britain, no way could they ride herd over that much territory, thus opening the back door for a Hun invasion. No parallel between us and the Chinese there (note the tongue in cheek).

Now I hope you're preparing for the Heat in Denver tonight. I predict a great game for the Manimal.

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Gallinari is an idiot -- self-assigned hero -- send him down the road, just like Harrington before him, is my considered opinion. Leaving McGee on the bench in his stead, in the final 2 minutes, would not have been my choice, but who am I to question George? The Manimal did not disappoint, free-throws notwithstanding.

Sorry 'bout the digression, folks, it's just that Jerry and I agree on so little else, nice to connect on SOMETHING, and I live vicariously through the Nuggets, having no life of my own.

Now back to the wars: What "moral decay"? Who defines that?

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Fred Duckels 1 year, 10 months ago

We have the same confederacy of dunces running our economy that are presiding over the Benghazi coverup fiasco with much the same results.

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bill schurman 1 year, 10 months ago

Fred,

You and yours LOST the election (even the "popular" vote), live with it. BTW: you do not need to take Social Security no one forces you to. Same with Medicare.

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

I am reminded of the South Park after the first Obama victory, where the Democrats were partying in the streets late into the night, while the Republicans were hanging and shooting themselves, to avoid the misery to come.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 10 months ago

Rhys I have taken a page from your book and gone south for the winter. I am happily residing in Lake Havasu City, Arizona for the winter. More beautiful cars than I have ever seen in one place in my life. I was pretend drag racing a 1957 Chevrolet two door hardtop Bellaire tonight. Stick shift and from its acceleration, I would guess a 327 with two four barrels. Talk about going back in a time warp. I have a Turbo Subaru Forester so had it been the real thing I think I could have held my own but I was not near as beautiful as his car. Anyhow I will not get to see Nuggets unless they make play offs. Have not missed Broncos yet and am predicting 12 and 4 or 13 and 3. Quarterback is vastly improved and so is defense. Still wish we would have kept Tebow based on character and raw potential that may yet develop. Tebow did some amazing things last season. If Sanchez and team continues to lose, Tebow may get a shot with Jets. Since you refuse to read the Bible there is no point in discussing moral decay. All true morality begins with the Bible.

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Jerry -- I hope this topic is sufficiently dead that it's okay if we hijack it a little. I got plenty of Bible with my best girlfriend, who was a Pentacost -- hoo boy did I get some Bible. But that didn't answer all my questions, like "Chariots of the Gods" "Life After Life" and "Seth Speaks" did. I like the Sethian assertion, that it doesn't matter WHAT you believe in this life, you WILL reincarnate; where you go next is determined by what you learned this time around. My favorite Biblical passage is "Take this herb and let it be as food for thought" which is about as unambiguous as the Bible gets. You've got to remember, that book was dictated by -- people? -- far advanced for the time, for the people of that day, in terms they could understand. It's been edited and rewritten several times since, hid in monasteries for hundreds of years... Carol would go to Bible class, where they would assign a passage to interpret (the Pentacosts said they believed in a "literal" translation) and when she would report back, they'd say "NO!! NO!! NO!! THIS is what it means..." so that book is open to any number of interpretations. In the end, it's in your heart what matters, not any book. I'm probably testing the word limit at this point, so I will continue this in another post, hang on...

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Jerry Part II -- Havasu, eh? That's a pretty cool town (except in summer, about 7 months) especially the London Bridge. We did a story there once when I worked for a TV station in Yuma, where we interviewed Parnelli Jones -- speaking of race cars. MariJene Mathias is there -- ex-Queen and Patrona of the River Bend -- Larry has passed on -- so look her up, if you ever got to know her here.

Ah, race cars... It took me many years to outgrow a bias against GM -- their adherents in high school outnumbered me, as I was a Mustang guy -- and that damn Matt Libby would slip a low gear into his diff just for our scheduled race, while I stuck with my 3.00, so his Chevelle kicked my butt every time; he had a 327, well-built. I still prefer my 'Stangs, only cars I ever owned which got me dates. I saw a bunch of old classics on my way through Norman OK last summer, and I am happy to report I have gotten over my prejudice -- they're ALL cool now.

I know how it is, to miss my Nuggets or Broncos in another State, so I feel for ya there, buddy. Peyton takes the offense to a whole new level.

At least you had the sense to bail when it got cold -- my last Houston diversion occurred at the start of the summer, which is NOT when you want to be in Texas (if ever).

All in all, I don't think "moral decay" is as bad as you think; churches make big bucks preying on those concerns. (note the spelling)

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jerry carlton 1 year, 10 months ago

Rhys Went to a show and shine today. There were 40 or 50 cars there. Gorgeous cars! There were a pair of his and her Lambroghenies (spelling?). Talk about conspicous consumption.

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