Election Highlights Need for Campaign Finance Reform

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citizens united reform

After an astounding $6 billion was spent this election cycle, Americans are once again confronted with the issue of campaign finance reform and the role of corporations in deciding the future of America. Inherent in any discussion of campaign finance reform is the 2010 Citizens United decision, which prohibits the government from restricting political spending by corporations and unions, essentially ruling that corporations are entitled to unlimited campaign spending.

Since the ruling, opponents of the decision have been vocal about their dissent, forming coalitions nationwide in favor of amending the Constitution. Voters in Montana and Colorado rejected the ruling, “with 75 percent and 74 percent of the state’s citizens voting against it, respectively.”

Most recently, San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald has called to overturn the controversial decision, focusing on the effect of the national ruling on state and local elections. She writes,

“The Citizens United case directly impacts state and local efforts to control the influence of corporate money in their own elections,” continuing that the “ruling and its far reaching effects represent serious and direct threats to our democracy.”

Twenty-two states have come together to oppose Citizens United, backing Montana in its fight against the Supreme Court ruling. In their attempt to “Stamp Money Out of Politics,” Montana and Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, are encouraging people to stamp dollar bills with that message to spread the word against policies like Citizens United.

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan recently spoke out against the ruling, arguing:

“Candidates are spending all their time raising money and campaigning, and nobody’s governing,” he said. “That poses a real serious threat to our economy and our future.”

However, in a Thursday speech to the Federalist Society, Justice Alito defended the 2010 Supreme Court decision. Rebutting the prominent argument against Citizens United — the notion that corporations should not get free speech rights like individuals — he said, “It is pithy, it fits on a bumper sticker, and in fact a variety of bumper stickers are available.”

He continued to identify the “real issue” as whether or not free speech rights should be limited to “certain preferred corporations, namely those media organizations.”

The election made clear that American voters do not want corporate dominated elections, and that campaign finance reform is the necessary next step in American politics. Attempts to amend the Constitution will only grow with the closing of the 2012 election.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Alex Gauthier i heard a great idea where the government would rebate something like 100 dollars to each voter who could then decide to which candidate he or she wanted to give their rebate to.
  2. Christopher Smith There has never been any limitations on Union spending. Citizen's united is balance.
  3. Leila Baroody Absolutely YES on getting money outta politics! Problem is you not only have entrenched special interests and politicians dug in to maintain their $$$ habit, but you have the Supreme Court stacking the cards against this!
  4. Jenny Jo Just wait til Obama can appoint a few more! Then you will REALLY see how deep the rabbit hole goes!
  5. Duane Dichiara Maybe Paula and Kate should take a few minutes and read both the First Amendment and the court decisions regarding free political speech. No of course I do not think that we should limit money in politics. As the Supreme Court has said time and again money = free speech. Having a Republic requires unregulated political speech folks.
  6. Wayne Alexander Wonder, how many homeless could be housed and fed with 6 billion?!!
  7. Daphine Wilson Corporations are not people...that should have never passed and shows that supreme court is bought and paid for just like congress
  8. Gil Sery We shouldn't have to overturn it because it should not have been the Court's decision in the first place! What I'm still struggling to understand is this: If money is a form of free speech, and free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, why can corporations donate as much as they want, but individuals are limited to $500 per candidate? Does the First Amendment provide different guarantees to businesses and individuals? It's not supposed to. Is an individual's money any different or less valuable than that of a corporation? No. So why is it OK to limit the free speech (i.e. money) of an individual, but not the free speech of a corporation? Can anyone explain that to me?
  9. Christopher Hood The only way to change it is an act of God (unlikely) or civil war
  10. Jenny Jo Both parties are the same, did you expect any different? Since the 1930s you have had the choice between (D) socialist coporatist fascist, and (R) socialist corporatist fascist... Some choice! Global elite own and control this country, and if you think you will get anything done other than what THEY want, without Constitutional amendments and millions of people armed, in the streets burning it down, you are delusional.
23 comments
Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

i heard a great idea where the government would rebate something like 100 dollars to each voter who could then decide to which candidate he or she wanted to give their rebate to.

Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith

There has never been any limitations on Union spending. Citizen's united is balance.

Leila Baroody
Leila Baroody

Absolutely YES on getting money outta politics! Problem is you not only have entrenched special interests and politicians dug in to maintain their $$$ habit, but you have the Supreme Court stacking the cards against this!

Duane Dichiara
Duane Dichiara

Maybe Paula and Kate should take a few minutes and read both the First Amendment and the court decisions regarding free political speech. No of course I do not think that we should limit money in politics. As the Supreme Court has said time and again money = free speech. Having a Republic requires unregulated political speech folks.

Wayne Alexander
Wayne Alexander

Wonder, how many homeless could be housed and fed with 6 billion?!!

Daphine Wilson
Daphine Wilson

Corporations are not people...that should have never passed and shows that supreme court is bought and paid for just like congress

Gil Sery
Gil Sery

We shouldn't have to overturn it because it should not have been the Court's decision in the first place! What I'm still struggling to understand is this: If money is a form of free speech, and free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, why can corporations donate as much as they want, but individuals are limited to $500 per candidate? Does the First Amendment provide different guarantees to businesses and individuals? It's not supposed to. Is an individual's money any different or less valuable than that of a corporation? No. So why is it OK to limit the free speech (i.e. money) of an individual, but not the free speech of a corporation? Can anyone explain that to me?

Christopher Hood
Christopher Hood

The only way to change it is an act of God (unlikely) or civil war

Tim Daniel
Tim Daniel

All that money spent and we are still going to get screwed by both parties.

Gerry Feldman
Gerry Feldman

The wealthy will never give up power, nor will the voters agree with higher taxes to publically fund campaigns. Even if you impose limits on donations, someone will find a workaround.

I think the best approach is to have four or five parties instead of two. The money would be diluted among more candidates, and each would be a less valuable investment -- further discouraging large donations. How do we get there? Approval voting.

Instead of having primaries, put them all on the ballot, and let voters choose as many candidates as they would find acceptable. Consensus would be achieved, and the rhetoric would be toned down -- resulting in fewer hard-line extremists who feel the need to keep "their side" in power through massive donations.

http://bcn.boulder.co.us/government/approvalvote/center.html

George Moore
George Moore

Constituents should be the only source of donations and limited to $5000.00 each. There should also be no advertising by anyone or any group other than the campaign committee for each candidate.

Greg Orcutt
Greg Orcutt

And I wholeheartedly agree term limits. I truly believe THAT would remove a lot of the corruption in politics.

Greg Orcutt
Greg Orcutt

How do you limit money without limiting free speech. If airtime, pamphlets, rental space, security...all costs money and you cant raise the money because it is "evil" to do so, then isnt that, by default, limiting free speech? And if you believe in something,but dont have the funds to get the word out, you have no choice BUT to form a pac with other like minded people, pool your resources and get your point of view heard. This is what the Citizens United ruling was all about...protecting the first amendment.

Dennis Pederson
Dennis Pederson

@Robby - can't agree More but I think it'll take a constitutional amendment.

Kate Swigonski
Kate Swigonski

The Supreme Court ruling re: Citizens United Decision should be repealed. Corporations are allowed to much freedom to contribute and we need to establish a spending limit as well as a time constraint like they do in Europe. They dont campaign for years but months. You have to condense your message and spend what $ is allowed wisely.

Robby Carbone
Robby Carbone

Remove money from politics and we need shorter term limits in Congress. 12 years Max.

Jerry Haslem
Jerry Haslem

Just as long as the unions are cut off also

Jenny Jo
Jenny Jo

Both parties are the same, did you expect any different? Since the 1930s you have had the choice between (D) socialist coporatist fascist, and (R) socialist corporatist fascist... Some choice! Global elite own and control this country, and if you think you will get anything done other than what THEY want, without Constitutional amendments and millions of people armed, in the streets burning it down, you are delusional.