Recent debates over health care and financial industry reform have demonstrated the power that special interests currently wield in Washington. And today, by a narrow majority, the Roberts' Court has given these powerful interests even more say in the political process
In its decision, the Court has erased the distinction between corporate and individual expenditures in American elections, paving the way for unlimited corporate influence in our elections.
Fourteen months ago, Americans voted to bring "change" to Washington. But since then big money interests- buoyed by millions in campaign cash and thousands of lobbyists - have used their influence to water-down, gut, or outright kill important legislation. They have left a disillusioned public angry and demoralized at Congress's seeming inability to affect change. Tuesday's surprise outcome in the Massachusetts special election is the perfect example. Polling conducted election night show voters didn't choose Scott Brown because Democrats had gone too far, it's because they didn't go far enough. Today's opinion in the Citizens United case only exacerbates this problem, further eroding the people's trust in our elected officials and faith in our government.
This decision will force candidates for Congress to spend even more time dialing for dollars and attending gala fundraisers instead of focusing on the challenges facing our country. It will increase members of Congress's fear of political reprisal for votes cast or policy decisions made that may be in the best interests of their constituents but are opposed by deep-pocket lobbyists. Congressional schedules will be pitted against the calendar of campaign fundraisers.
If you like Congressional gridlock and insider politics, then you'll love this decision. If you think the lobbyists for the banks, insurance firms, and oil companies need more power, you'll love this decision. But if you value fairness, democracy and the free speech of ordinary citizens, this is a disaster. It is an immoral decision that puts the Roberts' Court on the side of Wall Street and the big money lobbyists against the interests of Main Street America.
Congress needs to address this decision swiftly and forcefully to empower everyday Americans and end the undue influence of big money on our elected officials. I've worked for nearly two decades to reduce the influence of special interest cash on our political process. With this decision, the need to change the system has never been greater, and the stakes have never been higher.
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