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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.