Lynn Abbott: 1 dollar, 1 vote?
April 3, 2014
Well, the Supreme Court has done it again. In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the court allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited amounts to political action committees. The result was, as we all remember, a flood of campaign money that swamped the 2012 election.
After Wednesday's decision in McCutcheon vs. FEC, that flood will become a torrent. Until Wednesday, an individual donor could give no more than a total of $123,200 to federal candidates and federal party committees in one two-year election cycle. Those aggregate limits, as they are called, were put in place 40 years ago as a response to the corrupting effect of campaign money during the Watergate years.
Today, after McCutcheon, there are no aggregate limits at all. Forty years of court precedent have now been negated. Individuals can spread as much money as they wish between as many federal candidates and party committees as they wish. There is only one restriction still in place: an individual still is limited to giving no more than $2,600 to a single candidate per primary and per general election. That is little solace when you realize that he or she could give $2,600 to every Senate and House candidate in his or her party.
So what does this mean for those of us who cherish our belief in "one person, one vote"? Our voices will become mute under the weight of all that money. The noise of all those television ads will drown out the music of our earnest chorus of individual participation. We can't let that happen! We cannot stand by and let it become "one dollar, one vote."
Our only option is to amend the U.S. Constitution — a daunting task, and rightfully so. But we can do this! Join the grass-roots movement that is blossoming across the nation.
As of last July, 16 states, including Colorado, have passed resolutions or ballot initiatives to amend the constitution in favor of campaign finance reform. In addition, 500 cities, towns and counties are on record as supporting such an amendment.
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Several organizations are working tirelessly; take a look at these websites to learn more and to see how you can help:
■ Move to Amend: http://www.movetoamend.org/wethepeopleamendment;
■ Public Citizen: http://www.democracyisforpeople.org/;
■ People for the American Way: http://www.pfaw.org/; and
■ Common Cause: http://www.commoncause.org.
Sign their petitions. Talk to your friends and organizations and tell them how seriously Citizens United and McCutcheon undermine our democracy.