Today, on the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, 5 million citizens are telling Congress: "We want money out and voters in." Ordinary Americans are signing petitions, contacting their members of Congress and standing against the takeover of our democracy by the 1 percent.
The high court’s Citizens United decision wasn’t the first court action to allow big money to influence our politics, but it did significant harm by enabling a flood of dollars from corporations and the wealthiest Americans to cripple our political process. Add last year’s McCutcheon decision, and the Court now has allowed virtually unlimited political spending. Corporations and the wealthiest now are able to buy our elections, aggressively lobby Congress and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.
The Democracy Initiative, a broad movement of 50 environmental, community, labor and citizen organizations representing more than 30 million activists, sees this flood of money in politics as one of the critical blocks to true democracy and the issues on which progressives want real progress. We support federal legislation that will reform our campaign finance process through small donor public financing. We’re backing a constitutional amendment that makes it clear: corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech. We are pressing for transparency in campaign funding and full disclosure, along with stronger enforcement of election law. And we’re fighting for these goals on the state and local level too, where there already have been major changes in moving to a fair and open campaign finance system.
The federal elections of 2012, a presidential year, cost $7 billion, the highest to date. Spending in the 2014 mid-term elections broke new records too, at $4 billion.
The danger of allowing corporations and the wealthiest to take away the people’s voice is all around us.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable are pushing a trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that would result in an even bigger corporate power grab. The TPP would place the “expected future profits” of multinational corporations ahead of U.S. citizens, communities, our health and security. Corporations could challenge any laws and regulations that they believe jeopardize their profits in secret, international tribunals.
Forget the Supreme Court’s determination that corporations are people. Under the TPP, corporations get some of the power of national governments.
Today, more than 5 million Americans are on record opposing this corruption of our political process and this number is growing bigger and stronger everyday, as we stand up to get money out of politics and to take back our democracy.