By the time the 2018 election had concluded, candidates in Michigan had raised over $152 million. With such a large amount of money being raised, the interest of the politicians becomes disconnected from that of the people. The people want their opinion on issues facing America, from healthcare to climate change, to be the deciding factor on action politicians take.
Big money encourages politicians to pass laws that are not for the greater good of the whole society, but rather the small fraction of the super-rich. It gives the wealthy far more influence over the government than the rest of the electorate. It is essential that we create a government that works for all people, not just the wealthy. Money shouldn’t control politicians.
The 2010 landmark supreme court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission opened the floodgates of big money in politics. It ruled that corporations, and other organizations, cannot be prohibited from spending money on political causes. Although it was a major upset in the argument to remove money from politics, there is still room for hope.
Various candidates and organizations are working hard to end the corrupting influence of money in politics. Several solutions have been proposed to create a better democracy and getting big money out of politics, but two provided by People For the American Way stick out.
One major solution that has gained traction is a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It would prohibit super PACs and the unlimited spending that comes with them.
Another large-scale solution is small donor public financing. Various versions of this proposal have been discussed, but the idea is that the federal government would empower small donors through vouchers or matching small donations. This would drastically decrease the reliance on large donations and would give more campaigns a viable shot at running for office.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Democrat and former presidential candidate, is one of the biggest supporters for dramatic campaign finance reform. Some of his biggest goals include fighting for public financing of campaigns.
During the 2016 presidential primaries, Sanders said he was dedicated to only appointing Supreme Court justices that were in favor of overturning Citizens United.
Additionally, his website says that we must “insist on complete transparency regarding the funding of campaigns, including through disclosure of contributions to outside spending groups, via legislation, action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, and Federal Communication Commission, and an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending.”
In addition to Bernie Sanders, there are a few Representatives who also champion campaign finance reform as one of their top priorities. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) all support campaign finance reform.
It is important to support these politicians and candidates like them, as they are our best hope for removing the dark influence of money in politics.