In January, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Citizens United v. FEC, ruled that it was okay for corporations – domestic and foreign – to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence public elections.
And in a public forum held last week at SUNY New Paltz: We the People: A Forum to Defend Democracy, a near capacity crowd learned just how dangerous this ruling is.
Some people see it as misusing the First Amendment. I agree with them. Corporations are not people. And I don’t want them influencing who runs this country. I run this country. And you run this country. Allow me my naiveté here, okay?
Now that it’s legal to throw a gazillion dollars at a senatorial candidate, guess who the politicians will answer to? You who donate $250 to their campaign? Or Exxon-Mobil, which donates $250 million?
This is clearly a ruling against the American people. And the ultimate irony is the slogan of the winning non-profit-plaintiff Citizens United: “Dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control.” Sometimes you just have to shake your head in amazement.
Short of changing the make-up of the court and hoping that someone sues to overturn the ruling, the only way to change this is with a constitutional amendment – a daunting task for sure. But those who agree with me — 76% of Republicans, 81% of Independents and 85% of Democrats, because this is a true bi-partisan issue – can take heart in the fact that our fellow Americans have changed the Constitution 27 times before. We can do it again. We must do it again. The very survival of our government “of the people, by the people and for the people” depends on it.