What’s your take on the amount of money spent in politics to influence your vote?
How do you feel about the amount of money candidates must raise to get elected?
In a recent news article (Advocate 8-13-16), the new 8th District Republican Congressional nominee Mike Gallagher said, “It stinks that you have to raise so much money.” Most people – Independents, Democrats, and Republicans – agree with him.
What can you do about the “so much money” problem? Start by asking yourself how you feel about these two ideas.
- “We the People…” – the first three words of the Constitution – refer to individual human beings only. Man-made organizations (corporations, unions, political action committees) are made up of people (each of whom has individual rights). But since they are artificial entities, their “rights” should be open to limitation when there is a compelling reason to do so, like regulating their ability to pour millions into elections to further their agendas.
- Money is not “speech,” and political spending on elections should be open to limitation. Without sensible limits, excessive money gives, or at least gives the impression of, very wealthy individuals and organizations “buying” excessive access and influence.
If these points seem rational and make sense, then you may be surprised to know that the Supreme Court has ruled against both of them. (The most famous case was the Citizens United ruling in 2010.) These rulings have allowed billions more to pour into our elections over the last six years. Now, we have the utmost respect for the role of the Supreme Court. But, they don’t always get it right. Remember, once upon a time they ruled in support of slavery and internment camps for Japanese Americans.
So back to the “What can you do” question. First of all, keep in mind this is really about these two fundamental points only and not about party politics. Excessive money in our elections (disclosed and undisclosed) is everyone’s problem and can only be solved by non-partisan efforts. Then check out Wisconsin United to Amend (WIUTA)’s call for a Constitutional Amendment addressing the above two points. The amendment would again allow Congress to debate and pass sensible bi-partisan campaign finance rules again (like McCain-Feingold). Go to wiuta.org/Documents to find the 77 Wisconsin municipalities that have already successfully passed resolutions or referendum (by an average of 77 percent), as well as 19 more that have referenda on the November ballot –including Manitowoc. You’ll also see which 17 states (blue and red) have already called on Congress to pass an amendment.
Finally, share what you learn. Talk to your elected municipal officials. Ask them to join the growing number of local communities calling on our state legislature for a bipartisan statewide referendum telling Congress to act on the Amendment. Take a step towards sensible campaign financing that would give all of us (We the People) an equal voice in our elections.
Jim Black, Sister Bay, Wis.
Dan Powers, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.