I am writing this in response to the opinion piece written in the Sept. 18 edition which addressed Constitution week and the intentions of the framers, particularly the quote in the piece “And so this is our framework. No royalty. No all-powerful person or family. Instead a shared system of government.”
I totally agree that this was the intent of our system as designed. However, we are now struggling with a complete distortion of that platform as a direct result of the Supreme Court Citizens United decision in 2010. I feel certain that the founders would be shocked that now “corporations are people” and “money is speech.” We are no longer allowed to control how our campaigns are conducted and the way the influence of money has distorted our entire system at the federal, state and, to some extent even local levels.
The Citizens United ruling led to the rise of super PACs in our elections and unlimited spending from wealthy individuals. Fewer than 400 families were responsible for over half the money in the 2016 presidential campaign. The 2018 midterm election was the most expensive in history with over $5 billion spent in all races. Most of this money came from less than half of 1% of Americans, and no one really knows to what extent foreign governments and corporations are involved.
This is growing exponentially at the state level. The dominance of independent expenditures is a very significant change. Independent expenditures increased from $436,000 in 1994 to more than $33 million in 2018. They doubled from 2014 to 2018. So the model of individuals or groups giving contributions directly to candidates under limits imposed in state law is much less relevant and effective today. In other words, big money in elections is alive and well in Minnesota. Given the need for candidates to secure funding to win, one wonders how a candidate can afford to overlook the requests of a major contributor. Legislators should represent us rather than their contributors or their political party. National consensus is overwhelming with more than 75% of Americans supporting an amendment to limit the power of money in state and federal elections.
This issue is critical to all the problems that our country is facing regardless of party orientation and, yes, a constitutional amendment is complicated and not easy to do. However, it has been done 27 times and can be done again. Twenty states have passed a resolution in its support and we need Minnesota to GET ON BOARD! This is a grassroots effort and we all need to get involved. Not much is made of this in broadcast media because, well, who benefits most from this spending? They do! Aren’t we all tired of being inundated with campaign ads or “issue” ads during elections? If indeed we believe in a “shared system of government”, let’s do this! If you want to get involved for your children or grandchildren or just to support the system of government you believe in, American Promise which is a national platform with lots of support has established a group in the East Metro of the twin cities. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.