Fight Citizens United with Fair Elections
American democracy is now for sale to the highest bidder, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a stunning display of judicial activism at its worst, and with no factual record before it to review, the Court declared in January 2010 that corporate political spending does not corrupt elected officials. — opening the floodgates to unlimited political spending by the wealthiest special interests.
The 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission overturned decades of settled campaign finance law. It should be a wake-up call for all Americans concerned about the future of our democracy.
Everything you and Common Cause have fought for is now on the line.
Hard-won campaign finance reforms. A vibrant, responsive democracy. Government by, of and for the people.
It’s all at risk of being swept away. Multi-billion-dollar corporations and unions put around $300 million into the 2010 midterm Congressional elections, roughly half of it from undisclosed donors. Millions more went into races for governor and state legislatures across the country. And groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are promising to spend hundreds of millions more in 2012, easily enough to let them drown out the voices of individual Americans.
Every member of Congress and every aspiring politician who hopes to serve there must now think about the financial impact of his or her position on virtually every issue. A vote cast in support of a big contributor’s position may guarantee the congressman will have more than enough money to ensure reelection; a “wrong” vote may trigger the financing of a crippling campaign of negative ads.
It is hard to imagine how America can face the difficult challenges of the 21st Century – health care, climate change, energy independence, international unrest, and an unsteady economy – and achieve real progress when our elected representatives face such fundraising challenges and are so dependant on financial elites for their political survival.
Common Cause supports a different approach to campaign finance, the Fair Elections Now Act. This legislation would establish a small donor public financing system for congressional elections; it is the only workable solution to the all-out spending chaos unleashed by the Supreme Court. States like Maine, Connecticut and Arizona have implemented similar systems and have found that they encourage candidates to meet, talk and listen to everyday voters rather than focus almost exclusively on big donors.
Common Cause’s lobbying helped push this important legislation out of the House Administration Committee in 2010 but we were unable to bring it to a vote on the floor. In the 112th Congress, our focus has shifted to Senate, where we hope to see a revised version of the legislation gain bipartisan support.
We know this is a tough battle. Corporate CEOs, Wall Street executives, Big Pharma, Big Oil and all the other fat cats now free to spend unlimited amounts influencing elections aren’t about to give up that power without a fight.
So, it’s up to Common Cause members to make sure the voice of the American people is heard above the growing din of corporate special interests trying to drown us out.
At the same time, we must expand our essential watchdog role to include tracking the billions more dollars pouring into the political system. Corporations and unions could spend as much as $6 billion to directly influence the 2010 elections. And that’s “only” if they match the amount they already spend lobbying Congress!
We cannot allow five Supreme Court Justices to have the last word on our democracy!
Common Cause will not be able to sustain our push for the Fair Elections Now Act without your help. Please take a stand for democracy before it is sold out from under you.