Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

We Have the Power. A Constitutional Amendment to Take Back Our Government

August 29, 2011 6:26 pm 1 comment

US Capitol For Sale. Photo: takomabibelot.

Money has taken over our political system in a way that is simply horrifying. Special interest groups in particular corporations, unions, Wall Streeters and bankers dominate our politics.  They have devastated this country economically, yet they have gotten away with it because they choose and finance our candidates for low and high public office.  We complain but do nothing about this situation and feel helpless.

But we are not helpless.  Because of our numbers, we have in our power the ability to amend the Constitution of the United States to vastly limit the power of money to manipulate and control the electoral process.  Let’s do it.  Those in our society who unfairly use the power of money to oppress us do not have to prevail. They are vastly outnumbered by the backbone of our nation, the middle class, and by others who are similarly outraged by the power of money to oppress us.

Whenever commentators talk about a possible political candidate running for high office, particularly for president, their first observation will be, does he/she have the capacity to raise the money needed to fund the campaign?

President Obama, seen as a reformer to his supporters, surprised many when he announced he would be raising a billion dollars for his 2012 reelection campaign. He expects the Republicans will be raising at least that much and probably more.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a host of decisions has made clear that it interprets the Constitution as allowing the broadest freedom in spending money on a campaign for public office. The case which set the tone for the cases to follow was Valeo v. Buckley in 1976.  It established that candidates for public office who agreed not to take public funding could spend as much of their own money as they wanted to on their own campaigns, federal, state and local.

The most recent of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on this issue, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, went further and stated that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

Rules are imposed by the Federal Campaign Finance Board on federal campaigns. Localities like New York City have their own monitoring agencies. Candidates are required to make a host of public filings on amounts collected, monies spent, and provide the names of contributors to the different campaigns, both those administered by the candidates directly and those administered independently of the candidates but supporting candidates or public issues. The rules are many and campaigns employ lawyers and accountants to follow them. Many candidates fail to file all the information required or to observe all the regulations and are subject to major fines.

The greatest expenditure for most campaigns is the cost of television and radio commercials, the former far outweighing any other media. The television licenses provided by the government could require as they do in some other countries that the station provide the candidates with free time and remove that enormous financial burden from the campaign. Regrettably, that has not happened in our country. The television industry is far too powerful to permit such free access. The television industry is one of the special interests dominating the Congress.

This past weekend there was a front-page article in The New York Times addressing the issue of campaign finance. The Times and other newspapers and opinion makers have addressed that issue in the past, but apparently for the most part, those articles and the inherent warnings have fallen on deaf ears. Neither the Congress nor the public has responded with action.

The Times of August 28 reported on an independent committee raising money for Republican Governor Romney’s campaign for president. The reporter, Nicholas Confessore, wrote:

“Mr. Romney’s appearance underscored the increasingly blurry line between presidential candidates and the so-called Super PACs that have proliferated since a 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowed independent groups to raise unlimited amounts to promote candidates.”

The article went on:

“Increasingly, the new Super PACs are taking on tasks that in previous years were handled by – and paid for – the candidates themselves.  But instead of using money raised in the $2,500 increments that federal law imposes on candidates, the Super PACs can accept donations of unlimited amounts. (The groups must disclose their donors, though some Super PACs, including Priorities USA and the Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, have affiliated nonprofit arms that do not have to disclose donors.)”

What is so absurd is that there is a remedy:  a constitutional amendment. Yes, it is difficult to pass a constitutional amendment and rightfully so. The Constitution shouldn’t be easily amended. But this situation is so awful, I have no doubt that Democrats, Republicans, Independents and others would flock to the cause.

Around the world many times through violence and non-violence, as was just illustrated in India, through an act of pacifism by one person and his willingness to engage in a hunger strike, the people in all their majesty win.

Why don’t the good government groups in our country convene a meeting to discuss how best to proceed with a constitutional amendment limiting the amounts of money that can be raised from any one individual, corporation or union and spent in any election for public office by candidates and their supporters?  We currently have no greater need than that of protecting our democratic system of government.

1 Comment

  • I whole heartedly agree with this article Consider the case study of Wisconsin. This summer’s recall season in Wisconsin confirmed what we already knew, that the campaign financing system in Wisconsin allows special interests to buy elections. Close to $40 million was spent for 9 state senate seats and funds from outside groups whose anonymous donors outspent the candidates by a 6 to 1 margin. Regular citizens need to push back. Big money is the issue behind the issues. A constitutional amendment can happen. In Wisconsin, we believe that public financing can be an option. Share this information widely and encourage your friends and family to engage in this issue. Check out the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s Small Dollar Democracy Initiative.

    http://www.wisdc.org/index.php?module=cms&page=3272

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    JNS.org – Several Viennese Jews have made a lasting impact on the world. Sigmund Freud’s investigations changed the face of modern psychology. Composer Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations in atonal music changed the face of music. These days, even more Jews — in particular, Israeli Jews — are changing the face of Vienna’s culinary scene with innovations in…the art of the pita. Freudians may find a psychoanalytic motive for the local appeal of the Israeli eateries popping up in the Austrian capital. Walk […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    The two bullet casings are already beginning to rust. Sheikh Nasser Pasha plucks them from the ground. “Look, one is from an AK-47, one from an American M-4.” The casings are strewn on the ground atop a long mound of dirt with a few bits of white sticks on it. It would appear unremarkable if one were walking by it. A closer look, however, reveals the white objects are pieces of human bone: arms, legs, and a single human skull. […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →