October 8, 2018 In The News, Media

The only way to get special-interest money out of politics: Your vote

October 8, 2018

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court made a disastrous decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission to allow corporations to pour vast amounts of money into the political system and it’s breaking the foundation of American democracy.

We know the Constitution says “We the People,” but lately it seems like it’s “We the billionaires and corporations.”

During campaigns, billions of dollars flood our TV screens but, too often, we don’t know who paid for those ads or who is influencing our democracy. Citizens United must be overturned to renew transparency and accountability in our democracy. Until we get money out of politics, it will continue to be the norm that voters’ voices aren’t heard.

Take the failure of anti-gun violence measures to move in Congress, despite the overwhelming public support to keep our communities safe. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist., one of the End Citizens United-endorsed candidates in New Jersey, tells us that during town halls people constantly ask, “Why has there been no action in Washington when we all support sensible reforms?”

The answer is obvious, but also sad and despicable.

Tragedy after tragedy comes and goes — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Aurora, Parkland and more — and a powerful, money-wielding group prevents the movement on solutions. The influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the clearest-cut examples of why we need campaign finance reform. In 2008, before Citizens United, the NRA spent $10 million, but in 2016 that number ballooned to $54 million, with more than $30 million spent on Donald Trump’s campaign alone.

The huge influence of the NRA has fueled a student- and parent-led cry for lawmakers to take action.

One bill in Congress that would help move our democracy back on track is the DISCLOSE Act. It would shine a light on “dark money” donations and require campaign ads to provide more information about who paid for the ad. A critical fix to the disastrous Citizens United decision is to permanently amend the Constitution to regulate contributions and expenditures, so all citizens — regardless of their net worth — have an equal voice in the political process. The Democracy For All Amendment Resolution proposes such an amendment and has been cosponsored by New Jersey Reps. Norcross, Albio Sires, D-8th Dist. and Bill Pascrell, 9th-Dist.

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