On a national level, today’s announcement that the United States Supreme Court basically threw out 100 years of restrictions and traditions regarding corporations being able to donate unlimited funds to influence federal political campaigns is probably the saddest thing I have seen since the second airplane hit the World Trade Center. In my view, this is now the second biggest immediate threat to the United States, trailing only behind another big terrorist attack.
For many years, I have quietly held the belief that only an amendment to our Constitution would solve this problem that the recent court decision just made a billion times worse. For all of that time, I felt like I was completely on the fringe of public opinion. In the wake of this decision, I am heartened to see that at least a few Republicans realize the grave danger now posed to our democratic system (joining the many Democrats and Greens that are already saying “Oh shit” to themselves over and over again). Smart conservatives realize that they can be just as hurt in places by narrow-interest unions and other large liberal-minded donors just as much as progressives know they are now under the gun of self-interested corporations. Now, for the first time, I have actually seen members of Congress state that a constitutional amendment is needed to rectify this problem.
To be honest, in a strict sense, the Supreme Court was correct to rule as it did even though the consequences will be so horrible. There is indeed nothing in the Constitution that gives any branch of our government the authority to abridge free speech. Like it or not, spending money to put up advertisements for political purposes is free speech as our Constitution is now written.
On the other hand, common sense tells us that free speech should not include the ability of any one person or organization to drown out the voices of everybody else. There is no doubt in my mind that is exactly what is going to happen. The corporations and unions will hide behind fictitious group names (like Americans for Freedom, Puppies, & Fuzzy Little Kitties) and there will be even more confusion as people try to sort out who is who and fact from fiction all while still trying to lead real lives in a would where almost everybody is scrambling in one way or another to hold themselves together financially and mentally.
Thus, I offer up this first draft of my proposal — the Election Campaign Regulation Amendment (ECRA) — which, if approved, would become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. This would correct the imbalance created in world that our Founding Fathers never envisioned.
The Congress shall have the power to regulate all donations, monetary or otherwise, made by individuals, groups, corporations, organizations, or any other similar entity involving in any manner any Federal election. This power expressly includes donations made indirectly and not necessarily given to a candidate, political party, or any similar organization. The Congress can enforce this power by appropriate legislation.
Whether one agrees with this specific text or not, something is needed before we never again have a President personally approved by Wal-Mart, Microsoft, NewsCorp, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the Teamsters Union, and so on. I cannot urge my readers strongly enough to take the time to send an e-mail to both of their Senators as well as their member of the House of Representatives urging them to get moving on this issue immediately. Such a message should also include a reminder that you will not vote for any candidate, no matter the party, that does not support such an amendment.
Yes, I am fully aware that most election campaigns, Federal or otherwise, are bought and paid for by the wealthy special interests whether they be thoughtless corporations or corrupt unions. However, there have still been opportunities for others to get through that system. If we let this Supreme Court decision stand, we will have completely sealed our fate in becoming a declining democracy and quickly develop into a complete corporate oligarchy.