In the five years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision the dominance of big money over politics and policy has grown, seemingly without restraint and with dire consequences for representative self-government. A functioning democracy requires a government responsive to people considered as political equals, where we each have a say in the public policy decisions that affect our lives. It is profoundly anti-democratic for anyone to be able to purchase political power, and when a small elite makes up a donor class that is able to shape our government and our public policy.
It’s not just the amount of money being spent on campaigns and to lobby our elected representatives—which is on the rise and increasingly secret. The problem is that our current system for funding elections allows a few people and special interests to have much more power over the direction of our country than the vast majority of Americans, who have different views on public policy than the wealthy elite. We’ve been fighting to control the improper influence of money in government, whether from wealthy individuals or corporate interests, since the founding of our republic. But we are at a low point, where large financial interests wield tremendous political power, and much of the blame rests squarely on the Supreme Court and its campaign finance decisions.
Americans across the political spectrum understand that our current rules for using money in politics give the wealthy greater political power and prevent us from having an equal chance to influence the political process, and that government is not serving our interests but rather serving special interests. Comprehensive, structural changes are needed to stop the anti-democratic results of our current system, and many practical solutions already exist to help build a new system. The Supreme Court must reverse course and allow us to adopt common sense rules to reclaim our democratic self-government of, by, and for the people.
For more, read the five ways Citizens United harms democracy and five ways people are fighting back