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Joan E. Dowlin

Joan E. Dowlin

Posted: November 1, 2010 09:10 PM

"Is anyone else tired of the political ads on TV, on the phone and signs on the roadside? How come this country has no money but ALL the politicians can spend thousands to get elected???????????"

Thus asked a Facebook friend of mine. What is amazing is all the replies she got and how every one of them agreed with her. Actually, it is billions that are being spent this election year.

Finally, an issue we can all agree on: campaign finance reform. Wait, didn't we try that before? I guess the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission -- that corporations should have the same freedom of speech rights as individuals and can spend unlimited amounts on campaign ads -- threw the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act right out the window.

The timing of this ruling could not have come at a worse time for most of us. What with the electorate being concerned with the economy and jobs and war and immigration reform, campaign finance reform seems like a back burner issue. But is it?

Elections are a fundamental right of democracy. Do we really want American/global corporations or Unions to decide who we should vote for? With the Supreme Court ruling, campaigns are not required by law to disclose the source of their funding (which allows anonymous donors to support conservative groups such as Crossroads for America and FreedomWorks and the US Chamber of Commerce.)

The Huffington Post recently reported that many of the same Wall Street corporations that we bailed out with TARP are spending incredible amounts of money to influence this mid-term election.

Once again, it's the citizens (united or not) that are getting the shaft. Politicians, corporations and D.C. still have not gotten why the public is so angry at them. We are sick of the bickering, sick of the partisanship, sick of the out of control spending, and sick of being out of work, losing homes, being out of money while billions are being spent to sway us to allow one party or the other back in power.

As Arianna Huffington, who was promoting her new book Third World America, noted on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: "Both parties have for 30 years now screwed the middle class."

It was encouraging to see so many people go to Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert's Restoring Sanity and/or Fear rally in DC last Saturday. Maybe we are not all raging lunatics. Maybe some of us want sanity, civility, and moderation back in the political process. Maybe we just want our voices heard.

According to my Facebook friends, a large number of us agree we want our tax dollars and campaign contributions spent more wisely. Maybe the silver lining of this recession is that it has made us all more financially conscious. We are saving more, trimming our budgets, and trying to make ends meet. When we see such wild spending by big businesses, unions, and other special interest groups to try to influence our votes, we wonder where all this money is coming from. We wonder why they have the cash and we hard working Americans don't.

We also feel our intelligence is being insulted by all of the negative and often racist attack ads. Do the ad makers really think the Hispanic population will listen when you tell them in Spanish to not vote to punish the Democrats? Why not tell them to vote for the GOP rather than not to vote at all? That is an attempt at voter suppression. I have a feeling it may backfire.

Both parties are exploiting the fear factor with the Democrats, saying the GOP will privatize social security and are responsible for sending jobs overseas and the Republicans saying the Dems voted for unwanted health care reform, big government spending and raising taxes.

The Tea Party is the wild card thrown into the mix. It may have started as a grass roots movement of people concerned about the deficit and taxes. But now, millions of dollars from GOP right wing groups are being poured into Tea Party backed candidates' campaigns. Will these new activists be in the back pocket of GOP special interest groups if elected?

How this will all turn out will be very interesting. Whatever the outcome, we can all agree we want civility and sanity in DC and we need campaign finance reform and we need it now.