It's about time the Senate acted to save itself. That's why the Sierra Club is joining with dozens of organizations representing millions and millions of Americans to call on the Senate to approve a constitutional amendment proposed by Senators Tom Udall and Michael Bennet to stop big money campaign donors from putting their money where everyone else's mouth is.
Udall and Bennet's amendment will overturn the damaging effects of Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC that have thrown open the floodgates to a tidal wave of corrupting campaign cash. Ever since these decisions, the amount of toxic money from big polluters in our political system has skyrocketed. In fact a report from the Sierra Club and Oil Change International shows that between 2008 and 2012 the amount of outside political spending increased by almost 12,000 percent. That's because dirty fuels billionaires like the Koch brothers have been wielding their fat wallets to push policies that not only contaminate our air, water, soil, and climate, but also our democracy.
All you have to do to see there is a problem is turn on your TV -- the airwaves are saturated with political ads funded by a handful of billionaires pushing their narrow agenda. The result? The massive megaphone they've bought is drowning out the voices of everyone else.
Take a look at the House of Representatives. After Citizens United, polluter dollars poured into campaigns all over the country -- and the Republican-controlled House responded by taking over 500 votes on legislation attacking clean air, clean water, and clean energy. The record is so bad that it's been deemed the most anti-environmental House in history -- and another example of political money distorting the priorities of our democracy.
It's time to level the playing field and put a stop to the chokehold big money campaign donors have on our democracy. Our campaign finance system needs a makeover, and this amendment is one big way to achieve it.
By reversing the Supreme Court's devastating Citizens United decision, Udall and Bennet's proposed amendment will restore power to Congress and the states to limit the amount of money that can be raised and spent in federal political campaigns. In other words, a few billionaires will no longer be able to donate overwhelming sums of money to political campaigns, effectively drowning out the voices of the American people.
Not surprisingly, the allies of the big polluters who've seen their stock go up under the status quo are objecting. Naysayers like Ted Cruz are trying to fight this effort to turn the table on polluter politics every step of the way. With campaign coffers full of oil and gas cash, Cruz has taken it upon himself to entirely divorce his rhetoric from reality, publicly proclaiming that the amendment would impact the Sierra Club and a bevy of other organizations. We "fired" him for a reason.
The truth is Udall and Bennet's amendment would represent a great victory for everyone who wants a government of, by, and for the people, creating a more level playing field for everyday Americans and proudly proclaiming that, no, corporations are not people.
Americans know there is a problem with the status quo -- and they are looking for a solution. Eight in 10 Americans polled say too much money is being spent on campaigns and want spending to be limited. That's why this amendment is needed no more than ever.
A constitutional amendment is no small matter -- and we don't take that lightly. But when our democracy is distorted to favor polluters over the people, it requires real, significant reform.
Together, environmentalists, workers, civil rights advocates, champions of good government, and everyday Americans who want a responsive government are standing up for this critically important amendment. It's time our Senators did too.
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