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.
As 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 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
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