Push Back Against the Power of Big Money in Campaigns

At a cost of more than $ 6 billion, the 2012 election cycle was the most expensive in history. The current 2014 midterm election cycle has already seen a dramatic increase in campaign spending in the form of “dark money,” for which there is no clear disclosure of the funding source, over three times that of the 2012 elections.

Campaign Finance ReformAs we prepare to mark the Fourth of July holiday, we are reminded of the importance of the democratic process and the power of each person’s vote in shaping our common life. Yet over the past several years, we have seen the democratic process undermined by laws and court rulings that have expanded the disproportionate influence of big money contributors in election campaigns.

The reality is that campaign financing impacts all of us. No matter what issues we care about or where we find ourselves on the political spectrum, campaign financing can have a fundamental influence on the public policy process, often distorting political debate. In a number of important current policy discussions, the money of a few appears to speak more loudly than the voices of the electorate.

The Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions have opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in election campaigns. Anyone running for public office is under enormous pressure to cater to large donors to fund their election campaigns. As a result, it is much harder to advance a public interest agenda on any issue involving the special interests of big money donors and potential corporate profits – whether the issue is environmental protection, health and safety standards, worker rights, consumer protections or gun violence prevention.

There are now several measures before Congress calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the impact of the Citizens United ruling. One particularly promising measure to reform campaign financing currently before Congress is S.J. Resolution 19, “A Constitutional Amendment to Address the Broken Campaign Finance System,” also referred to as the Udall Constitutional Amendment.  The Udall Amendment would not mandate any specific policies or regulations, but rather would allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that will withstand constitutional challenges. It would include the authority to regulate and limit independent expenditures, such as those from Super PACs, and would allow states to regulate campaign spending at the state level.

It is a moral imperative that we reclaim the political process for all the people, not just those with the power of money on their side. The Udall Amendment is one important step in the work of restoring voter accountability in our political process. As we celebrate the democratic process this Fourth of July, contact your senators and encourage them to support measures like the Udall Amendment to reverse the impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings.

Learn more about the faith community's work on this issue:

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