Obama calls for Constitutional Amendment

Obama in online chat says that mobilizing for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United is a good idea. Even if an Amendment fails, he notes, the process of individuals organizing around the problem of money will help shine a light on the massive problem, which could force lawmakers to take the legislative action they so far have not.

We think President Obama must have been watching the Needham Channel replays of Needham Town Meeting!:

Question: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?

Answer: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who.

We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it).

Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

Obama Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Citizens United In Online Chat | Alternet – http://bit.ly/NZqnTH

Killing McCain-Feingold for Good

from mother jones — At this time during the last presidential campaign, the Republican Party’s campaign finance law opponents were in something of a pickle. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was their nominee; the tough law banning so-called soft money bore his name; and so, during the 2008 election, the GOP platform couldn’t take a rhetorical buzzsaw to the laws curbing the flow of campaign cash into elections.

There’s no such problem for Republicans at the 2012 GOP convention. James Bopp, Jr., an influential lawyer who’s made a career out of demolishing campaign finance laws, said in a recent interview with the Indianapolis Star that the GOP’s 2012 platform will call for gutting what’s left of the McCain-Feingold law—namely, the ban on unlimited, unregulated, soft money given to political parties.

The platform, Bopp suggests, will read like a wish list for haters of campaign finance restriction:

Four years ago, he watched with distaste as his party nominated Sen. John McCain as its presidential nominee. With McCain leading the ticket, Bopp said, “we couldn’t write in (the platform) that we opposed McCain-Feingold. And we sure as hell couldn’t endorse it, so we didn’t say anything about campaign finance.”

This time, he said, the platform calls for the repeal of the last vestiges of the McCain-Feingold law and opposes passage of the so-called “Disclose Act” in Congress. It would require advocacy groups making more than $10,000 in campaign-related expenditures to disclose contributors who had donated more than $10,000.

GOP Platform Calls for Nuking What’s Left of McCain-Feingold Law | Mother Jones (Aug 28, 2012) – http://bit.ly/Ppz45v

Citizens United Undermines Our Elections and the Supreme Court

As we draw closer to the November election, it becomes clearer that this year’s contest, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, will be financially dominated by big money, including, whether directly or indirectly, big money from the treasuries of corporations of all kinds.

Without a significant change in how our campaign finance system regulates the influence of corporations, the American election process, and even the Supreme Court itself, face a more durable, long-term crisis of legitimacy.

Russ Feingold

More than a Bit of an Oligarchy

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In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others.

Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker).

On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation.

In reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy,

in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

-Economist P. Krugman, Feb. 2011

Boston.com: Needham Town Meeting Calls for Constitutional Amendment

Boston.com: Needham Town Meeting calls for constitutional amendment on campaign spending

Lois Sockol, who spoke at Town Meeting in favor of Article 23

Many argued that though the article ostensibly deals with a national issue, the issue of possible political corruption could have local effects.

“None of us, none of us, unless we hide under a rock, can not be influenced by the electoral process and the people in power,” said Lois Sockol.

Citizens United, she said, tore the fabric of American democracy.

“Big money has a powerful fist, more powerful than any individual.

Nowhere in the equation of big money and the individual is there basic equality.

By this very inequality, unlimited contributions undermine the basic American creed,” she said.

“We are a government of the people. By the people. And for the people.”

POLL: Voters Care About Money in Politics

“Money in politics is not a distraction from the economy, it is the economy.”

New poll, findings as summarized by CampaignMoney.org

  • Money in politics is not a distraction from the economy, it is the economy. For ordinary Americans, this is not an either/or proposition; it is not question of addressing money in politics at the expense of talking about pocketbook problems. Voters believe that Washington is so corrupted by big banks, big donors, and corporate lobbyists that it no longer works for the middle class.
  • Voters feel strongly about reducing the influence of big money in politics and there is broad-based support to alternatives to the current system. Voters are supportive of small-donor matching systems with limited public financing and support common sense restrictions on what corporations and wealthy donors can spend on politics.
  • Voters will strongly support candidates — from both political parties — who seize this issue. Voters do not currently trust either party to tackle money in politics. All voters, and swing voters in particular, strongly support candidates who are willing to take on money in politics as a serious campaign issue. In fact, more than a third of all voters make this a litmus test for their support.

See more here.

Barry Goldwater (R-AZ)

Many people look on successful candidates as being bought and paid for by whomever gave the most money.

To make representative government work the way the framers designed it, elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people,

not to the wealth of groups who speak only for selfish fringes of the whole community.

–1985

The public does not have any doubt about the power of money.

Every poll taken shows that the vast majority of Americans believe campaign spending is a very serious problem and that those who contribute large sums of money have too much influence over the government.

Our nation is facing a crisis of liberty if we do not control campaign expenditures.

We must prove that elective office is not for sale.

We must convince the public that elected officials are what James Madison intended us to be, agents of the sovereign people, not the hired hands of rich givers.

–1983

from 

A Conservative Voice for Reform from Battles Past

BBC asks Mass. candidates: Can Money Buy Elections?

BBC was in the neighborhood this week, and visited the Wellesley RTS, where they talked to candidates for the Congressional seat represents Needham.  Speaking to Joe Kennedy III (D) and Sean Bielat (R), BBC asks–Can money buy elections? And is that “fair”?

Dump-goer says, “There’s no ‘fairness’ in American politics.”

Another, to the statement, “That’s not fair,” answers: “That’s capitalism.”

BBC’s Owen Bennet Jones, on the massive spending in the last MA-04 race (over $6 million) says, “That’s bonkers.”

Start at 2:00 mark: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00qrxj2

Conservative “Red State” Blogger Argues for Constitutional Amendment

A constitutional amendment of some kind or another is thus necessary to address campaign finance reform and allow the Republican Party to elect conservatives to national office.

…The need to pass such an amendment is more than a left or right-wing issue–

both Democrats and Republicans are too cozy with big money and special interests.

Should politicians be accountable to their constituents and communicate honest principles, or to shady billionaires of varying political stripes?: corporations, church groups, and labor unions, as well as Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, the health insurance industry, the education privatization industry, the NRA, the military industrial complex, and various environmental groups, flooding the airwaves with commercials that distort their opponents’ records or grossly oversimplify the issues.

The current system of campaign finance has so weakened the ability of the Republican Party to elect conservatives to political office that perhaps a more radical approach to a constitutional amendment regarding this issue is necessary. If the Republican Party wishes to elect conservatives in all parts of the country, not just in “red states” or rural areas, a constitutional amendment that empowers the FCC to prohibit the broadcasting of political commercials on television and on radio must be passed.

To elect Conservatives, the GOP needs Campaign Finance Reform