No claim made on the campaign trail by a politician has a guaranteed shelf life past Election Day. So when presidential candidates make half-baked declarations of support to reduce the amount of money in our political system, the American people want details – especially now that we can put some unequivocal figures on the massive outrage surrounding this issue.
A recent poll, published by the New York Times and CBS News, reported that 84 percent of Americans thinks the ultra-wealthy have undue influence over our political system. This week, the Wall Street Journal’s latest poll revealed that the top concern of Americans for the 2016 races is the overwhelming influence of big money in elections.
While the majority of the 2016 presidential candidates have gone on record to criticize our current campaign finance system, candidates need to specifically explain how they plan on fixing this mess. A few Republicans and Democrats have endorsed a constitutional amendment to remedy this issue.
For instance, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “Citizens United has gotta be fixed…You’re gonna need a constitutional amendment to fix this problem” at a town hall in New Hampshire. On the left, Hillary Clinton stated, “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if it takes a constitutional amendment.”
But if campaign finance reform is truly on their White House or Capitol Hill to-do list, these candidates should take a pledge to support a specificamendment. Last year, the U.S. Senate voted 54-42 in favor of the “Democracy for All” amendment, which would re-introduce restrictions on campaign money and effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. I didn’t think this amendment included any restrictions. It was only 13 votes shy of passing. Another proposal, the “People’s Rights” amendment, aims at dismantling years of Supreme Court holdings that established the “legal fiction” of corporate personhood. Many times in our history amendments have been passed in pairs. These two would finally proclaim what was intended all along – that Corporations are Not People and Money is Not Speech
In 2016, voters want to hear how candidates plan to reform our broken elections. This mass public outcry over this issue has finally penetrated the political discourse in this country. Poll after poll shows a bipartisan majority of America want to break big money’s chokehold on Washington.
The movement against money in politics will continue to push legislators to challenge the misguided Supreme Court decisions that have landed us in this money-fueled political era. The grassroots campaign StampStampede.org, is putting the rubber where it hits the money – we’re stamping money (legally!) with anti-corruption messages like Not 2 B Used 2 Buy Elections and “Stamp Money Out of Politics!” There are now 50,000 stampers that are makingtheir money talk – and heard by 875 people that see each stamped bill once in circulation. All across the country, people are finding ways to ensure the momentum for campaign finance reforms continues to build.
The end goal is no longer an abstraction. Real legislative proposals have been introduced. It’s time campaign teams update their talking points and commit to a plan of action. Otherwise, we are stuck in the same loop every election cycle with politicians drumming up campaign cash from billionaires and ignoring ordinary Americans.