80% of Americans agree that in order to save our democracy, we have to get money out of politics. Large corporations and special interest groups provide the majority of funding for virtually all federal and state political campaigns. This obligates lawmakers to spend about three quarters of their time fundraising, which means they spend the majority of their time talking to and hearing the concerns of special interest groups and corporations. As a result, lawmakers typically don’t listen to the voices of the American people, who they are supposed to represent. Not only that, they’re so overwhelmed with fund raising that they delegate the task of writing the bills they introduce to corporate lobbyists!
Indeed, the problem runs even deeper. There’s an episode of Futurama where’s there a presidential debate on TV. The two candidates are identical clones. One says something like “My opponent’s position on the color orange is unconscionable.” The parody strikes sadly close to home. Because corporations, special interest groups, and the 1% are the only ones with enough money to fund a successful federal election campaign, they get to decide who is able to run for office in the first place! Ever wonder why all political candidates wind up catering to Wall St. and corporations in the same way once in office despite superficial differences in their political stances and their political affiliation? Now you know.
The only way to get money out of politics is to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo. There are two ways to pass a constitutional amendment. The first is for 2/3 of the House and Senate to vote for an amendment. The second is for 2/3 of the state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention, which is a convention where citizen representatives propose amendments to the constitution. The founders intended the constitutional convention to be a way of having a nonviolent revolution.
Either way, ¾ of the state legislatures have to ratify an amendment before it becomes law. This means that in order for an amendment to pass, it would have appeal strongly to the majority of red and blue states. The only issue that cuts across party lines like this is getting money out of politics.
Several Senators have proposed amendments to get money out of politics. I think we should support their efforts. However, I also think we should start calling for a constitutional convention as well. This would serve as a threat to politicians that if they lack the political will to get money out of politics, we the people will do it for them. It would also serve as a backup plan in case the politicians don’t pull through for us, which if experience is to be believed, they probably won’t. What do you think?