Grassroots democracy is alive and well in Montezuma County. On Saturday, local citizens rallied to protect our political process from being dominated and controlled by big money and to support the movement to amend our Constitution to abolish corporate personhood and to establish that money is not speech. This grassroots movement sprang from the United States Supreme Courts decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the court held that corporations enjoy the same rights as individuals under the First Amendment and, along with unions and individuals, may contribute an unlimited amount of money to support their political causes and candidates. While the case was decided two years ago, we have only recently begun to see the destructive effects of that decision on our democracy: the rise of Super PACs. Super PACs are political action committees without the spending restrictions. They can take unlimited funds from corporations, unions, and individuals. While donors must be disclosed, loopholes in the law allow that disclosure need not be made until well after the election the Super PAC sought to influence.
An example of the effects of Super PACs is illustrated by Newt Gingrichs win in South Carolina last weekend. A week before the primary, one billionaire gave $5 million to the Super PAC that successfully assaulted Mitt Romneys character, exposed his rapacious business practices, distorted his record, wiped out his double-digit lead and handed the South Carolina primary to Newt Gingrich, who won by 12 percent. In short, one mans money created up to a 25 percent shift in voter sentiment in less than two weeks. If Gingrich is elected president, do you think that billionaire expects anything in return?
This is not a partisan issue. This year both major political parties will roll out their Super PACs and savage the candidates until all of us are wondering if any candidate is fit for office. All conscientious voters should educate themselves about this issue and strongly consider joining the movement to amend our Constitution to eliminate this threat to our democracy.