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In today’s so-called “democratic” election process, Big Money doesn’t talk, it roars – usually drowning out the people’s voice.
Bizarrely, the Supreme Court decreed in its 2010 Citizens United ruling that money is a form of “free speech.” Thus, declared the learned justices, people and corporations are henceforth allowed to spend unlimited sums of their money to “speak” in election campaigns. But wait – if political speech is measured by money, then by definition speech is not free. It can be bought, thereby giving the most speech to the few with the most money. That’s plutocracy, not democracy.
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Sure enough, in the first six months of this presidential election cycle, more than half of the record-setting $300 million given to the various candidates came from only 358 mega-rich families and the corporations they control. The top 158 of them totaled $176 million in political spending, meaning that, on average, each one of them bought more than a million dollars worth of “free” speech.
Nearly all of their money is backing Republican presidential hopefuls who promise: (1) to cut taxes on the rich; (2) cut regulations that protect us from corporate pollution and other abuses of the common good; and (3) to cut Social Security, food stamps, and other safety-net programs that we un-rich people need. The great majority of Americans adamantly oppose all of those cuts – but none of us has a million bucks we can spend to buy an equivalent amount of political speech.
It’s not just some good public programs that are endangered by the Court’s ridiculous ruling, but democracy itself. That’s why a new poll by Bloomberg Politics found that 78 percent of the American people – including 80 percent of Republicans – want to overturn Citizens United. To help, go to www.FreeSpeechForPeople.org.
“2016 Outside Spending, by Super PAC,” www.opensecrets.org, 2015.
“Bernie Sanders’s Army of Small Donors,” The New York Times,” October 4, 2015
“Bernie Sanders Dominates With Small Donors While the GOP Rakes in the Dark Money,” www.thenation.com, October 16, 2015.