Lynn Abbott: Democracy needs help

Advertisement

Six billion dollars. That’s the amount spent on the 2012 election. How many hungry mouths could $6 billion feed? How many crumbling bridges could it repair? How many children could it educate? How many jobs could it create? What a waste.

Often the sources of this money were not disclosed, and the TV ads it spawned were negative and with little basis in fact. Lastly, and most worrisome, large gifts of money tend to come with expectations of specific policy decisions. Is this really the way we want our government policies to be decided?

Money in politics long has been a problem, but it was dramatically exacerbated in 2010 when the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. With that decision, the court essentially declared that corporations are people and money is speech and that both are protected by the U.S. Constitution. This decision opened the floodgates for a river of money to flow into our political system. It swamped the 2012 election and will undoubtedly inundate the 2014 midterm elections. Our democracy needs our help.

Fortunately, help is coming our way. Move to Amend is a national coalition of people and organizations dedicated to getting money out of politics. Its spokesperson, Ashley Sanders, is touring Colorado this week and will be in Steamboat at 7 p.m. today in the Commissioners Hearing Room at the Routt County Courthouse. (Please park in the lot behind the courthouse and use the back entrance.) She will speak about challenging corporate power and re-establishing our democracy. She will outline the history of the American Constitution regarding corporate personhood and undemocratic but currently legal corporate constitutional rights. We will learn how we can work together to get big money out of politics and establish a government truly of, by and for the people.

In order to accomplish this, we must pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is no small task: Two-thirds of the House and two-thirds the Senate must approve the proposed amendment. Then it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. However, it has been done 27 times before and can be done again. As of last week, 14 states and 175 cities have passed resolutions supporting such an amendment. Change starts at the grass-roots level, and there definitely is a grass-roots momentum building across the country. You can be part of it by joining us in this challenging but very worthwhile task.

For more information, call Lynn Abbott at 970-870-6673 or Move to Amend at 707-269-0984.

Lynn Abbott

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Scott Wedel 10 months ago

Basic trouble with money and politics is that as long as your side winning is seen as being worthwhile and that money can make a difference then people will find a way to spend money to make a difference in a campaign.

If campaign laws prevent money from being given to a campaign then it can be spent on issue ads. There is nothing plausible that can be done about issue ads. It is going to take a huge chunk out of the First Amendment if the public is not allowed to spend money to discuss issues during election season.

If voters were not so easily swayed by ads, but voted based upon a knowledge of the facts and positions of the candidates learned at public forums then campaign money would make no difference. But as long as campaigns and issue advocates think that voters can be swayed for a few dollars more then money will be given freely by both sides for campaigns.

0

jerry carlton 10 months ago

Put term limits in. One term in the House. One term in the Senate. One term as President. You can not be all three. Only one of the three. Put the professional bloodsuckers out of business. Will never happen but it is a nice dream.

0

Scott Wedel 10 months ago

Jerry,

I don't believe that term limits have worked where applied. It takes more campaign money to fill empty seats by candidates not known to the public. And worst of all, the term limited politicians stick around as consultants often knowing more than their replacements. So term limits have not reduced money or consultants in politics.

California's election reform passed by voters that has open primaries and top two vote getters on the general election ballot has proven surprisingly successful at defeating entrenched incumbents. Safe districts are no longer safe when someone more centrist of the district's dominant party can make it to the general election ballot. California had more congressional incumbents lose last November than had lost since 2000. Including Democrat long serving Pete Stark losing to another Democrat.

0

Rob Douglas 10 months ago

Here's a link to worthwhile read that touches on the issue raised in the above letter to the editor as it relates to a current lawsuit against the NSA.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/dont-want-corporations-to-have-rights-then-the-aclu-suit-is-dead/276917/

Here's the opening paragraph:

"If progressives had their way, the ACLU's latest challenge to the NSA's domestic surveillance would easily be dismissed. ACLU v Clapper, filed in the wake of the Snowden revelations, is based on the ACLU's First and Fourth Amendment rights, which, according to progressives, ACLU should not possess. It is, after all, a corporation, and constitutional amendments aggressively promoted by progressives would limit constitutional rights to "natural persons.""

0

Neil O'Keeffe 10 months ago

And here is a comment from that very same link of Robs that I believe does have relevance.

"The loss of person-hood wouldn't eliminate the ACLU lawsuit. It would only change the plaintiff from the corporation to the individuals using the phones."

0

mark hartless 10 months ago

The reason this country needs help is precisely BECAUSE people think it's supposed to be a democracy. It's screwed up because they have rejected the founding philosophy that we are supposed to be a nation of laws, not a nation of men.

Meaning? : It isn't supposed to matter how much money you have, or whether you are the Secretary of State or head of the IRS or Wal Mart; we are ALL supposed to be subjetc to the same RULES and they same CONSEQUENCES.

But the American electorate long ago rejected that in favor of a policy of "so long as my side is winning I will hapily ignore the lawlessness with which they act.

The American electorate refuses to confine and dicipline itself, and by extension it's government, to it's Constitutional mandates.

Where the money comes from and how much flows in is completely irrelevent. When force is met with equal force it matters not whether that force is measured in onnces, pounds, or tons; in dollars, millions, or billions. So long as this nation is ran by a brain-dead electorate which is willing to use the government as a club to redistrubute, manipulate, engineer and tinker with the mechanics of all facets of society there will never be any change.

0

mark hartless 10 months ago

Correction:

There will never be any POSITIVE change. On the other hand, NEGATIVE change is absolutely assured.

0

mark hartless 10 months ago

Another way of looking at is:

Lynn seems to me to be saying: "corporations shouldn't have as much of a "say-so"... I and people like me want more of a "say so"."

But what would Lynn Abbott DO with her "say-so"???

Would it really be anymore "democratic" ? I don't think so.

I think Lynn would set about NOT to put the nation on a Constitutional course, but on HER course.

Would it be Constitutional???

Frankly, I doubt it.l

So, would it be a solution???

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.