Money in elections is a lot like the graham cracker swirl in Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream – a little bit of it is good, but too much and it misses the point entirely. (Don’t worry, Strawberry Cheesecake fans, we’ve got the ratios juuust right.) In the case of America’s democratic elections, unlimited and unregulated money means that those elections aren’t really democratic at all.
Enter the ‘Democracy for All’ amendment, a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would reverse the disastrous effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. FEC decision, allowing states to once again put reasonable limits on campaign spending. It’s the best shot we have at reversing this decision and ensuring a political system that works for everyone, not just the super rich.
What’s This About Money in Elections?
It’s no secret that money plays a role in elections. After all, candidates need money to print bumper stickers, buy television advertising, have a staffer call you to ask for your vote just as you’ve sat down for dinner, and generally get the word out about their positions. Prior to 2010, there were limits on how much money any single person could give to a candidate’s campaign.
With the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United vs. FEC case, however, those limits were essentially thrown out the window. Now, via super PACs and other backwater channels, individuals and corporations can essentially donate unlimited cash to support their favorite candidate. Having more money in their arsenal gives candidates a leg up in elections, and puts the priorities of big donors – not everyday people – at the forefront of decision making.
How Will the ‘Democracy for All’ Amendment Fight Back?
Huzzah! Here’s how we average Joes can fight back: by helping to pass the ‘Democracy for All’ amendment. This piece of legislation would end the reign of unchecked money in elections by allowing Congress and the states to once again put limitations on campaign donations. Plus, corporations would no longer be treated as people able to make their own contributions.
The ‘Democracy for All’ amendment would end the reign of the dollar and put democracy back in the hands of regular voters. Your vote will mean a whole lot more, and your priorities will largely hold the same sway as those of the super rich. It’s the best way forward toward an America where everyone’s voices are heard equally.
How Can I Help Pass It?
In case high school government class seems like a world away, here’s a refresher on how constitutional amendments are generally passed: First, the legislation is introduced to the House of Representatives and Senate. Each one must pass it with a two-thirds vote. Second, the proposed amendment is sent to state legislatures, where it needs three quarters of all states to vote to approve it. If it is approved by 37 out of 50 states, it is ratified and added to the Constitution.
The Democracy for All amendment attempted the first step back in 2014, and didn’t get enough votes to pass. Blargh! So now it has been reintroduced, and is awaiting a vote in Congress. Second time’s a charm?
So how can you help this process along? Here are a few great ways:
- Sign this petition asking your US Senators to support the bill
- Contact your Senators and Representatives directly via telephone, email, snail mail, fax or an in-person meeting to let them know that this issue is important to you
- Mobilize your friends via social media, and get the word out about the importance of keeping big money’s influence out of politics
- Use the media to get the word out by submitting letters to the editor of your favorite news outlet