Letter to the editor: Get back to the basics on campaign finance reformThe recent Supreme Court decision giving corporations free rein to monetarily influence elections highlights a problem our country has kicked around for decades without ever connecting the right dots. The simplest campaign finance reform would create a direct link between the right to donate and the right to vote. When will anyone stand up and say that?
By: Mary A. Conrad, The Jamestown Sun
The recent Supreme Court decision giving corporations free rein to monetarily influence elections highlights a problem our country has kicked around for decades without ever connecting the right dots. The simplest campaign finance reform would create a direct link between the right to donate and the right to vote. When will anyone stand up and say that? Let’s pass a law that says it plain: If you can’t vote, you can’t donate to election campaigns. Creating an upper limit for these donations would go a long way toward recognizing the equal value of every citizen’s vote. So much of what’s wrong with Washington, and what compromises its credibility in the eyes of voters, could be corrected with this one single stroke of common-sense legislation.
Such a law would, of course, be mightily opposed by corporate and special interests. But think how it would put the monkey back where it belongs: on the backs of us citizens who, all along, ought to have been debating and supporting the issues instead of outsourcing our civic responsibilities to financially-motivated organizations. Our own apathy — dare we say laziness? — has gotten us where we are today. Corporations and special interest groups don’t have the right to vote. We do. A business or organization is just an aggregate of individuals like us whose constitutional rights, including the right to free speech, derive from our citizenship.
Corporations are not American citizens, and the United States Constitution does not give them the right to vote. So why did we ever give them the right to donate and buy votes that decide our future and fate as citizens? Letting them do so has, in some perverse way, created a proliferation of mini-governments in our country that compete with the government the U.S. Constitution established to serve our republic.
No wonder presidential administrations cannot achieve their best intentions. They are engaged in a competition they can’t win. Officials elected to represent us should never be beholden to anyone but the citizens who elect them to serve, most certainly not to non-voters in the business of buying votes. Given their power to enact laws, our congressional representatives already have the power to free themselves from their slavery to moneyed interests. Seriously, isn’t this the crux of the matter?
Let’s have the courage to stand up now, address the root problem, and fix what’s broken. Anything less — indeed, anything else — is only a Band-Aid on the festering wound that threatens to corrupt the American political system beyond all salvaging. Let’s stop making campaign finance reform more complicated than it is. Back to the basics with all of us. As we say out here on the plains, let’s just “get ‘er done!”
Mary A. Conrad