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Ellen Dumm Headshot

Money Runs Uphill Toward Politics

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There's an old saying in the West that water runs uphill toward money. These days, money in Colorado and the rest of the country is running uphill to politics, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that allowed for unlimited corporate donations to affect how we vote in political campaigns.

Citizens United wasn't the decision that said "corporations are people," and it wasn't the decision that said "money is speech." But it was the decision that took those two premises to an absurd and dangerous conclusion: that corporations have the same right as people to spend money to influence elections. The court decision also opened the door for the "independent" Super PACs that let wealthy individuals spend unlimited money on their chosen candidates in a way that evades federal contribution limits.

Anyone who has turned on a TV in the last few months can see exactly where that's gotten us.

Thanks to Citizens United, those of us who live in battleground states are watching the endless loop of ugly, irresponsible advertising, and our local TV stations are awash in political money. Those few who can afford to buy up millions of dollars in ad time are taking over the airwaves and deciding for themselves the terms of our political debate. These moneybags can put their chosen candidates into office, and they can even threaten officials with a barrage of negative ad attacks if they don't vote the right way on their own pet issues.

Voters should drive elections, not money. Our democracy was created to allow rich and poor, young and old, minority and majority a say in the direction of our country. The Declaration of Independence mentions voting rights more often than any other. It's the foundation on which every other right is built.

In Colorado, voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the money and power debate. We can vote in support of Amendment 65, which tells our congressional delegation that we're fed up with money controlling the debate and we want Citizens United overturned.

This ballot initiative would tell the billionaires who want to control our government that this democracy belongs to all of us, not just to a few of them. Tempting, isn't it? You know you need to vote "yes" on this one.

There is one simple way to send a message to politicians and their wealthy friends. Vote yes on Amendment 65. And remind them the real power rests with the voters.