It is clear that since the ruling of the Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (FEC) of 2010, corporations and our nation’s wealthiest are being given a greater and greater influence in our elections. The Court’s ruling stated that the corporations and unions have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment and therefore limiting election-related expenditures is inhibitive of their freedom of speech and unconstitutional. Now as a result of the Court’s decision, corporations and unions are able to spend unlimitedly on campaigns. Corporations cannot directly elect a president but now that they can and are placing millions of dollars into the campaigns of their choice, they can certainly make a significant impact.
In the 2010 midterm election independent groups that corporations are allowed to support spent $300 million; an increase of about 400% from the previous election and more than every midterm election since 1990 combined. With that kind of financial support, there is no way that the needs and desires of the middle and lower classes, the 99%, will be prioritized over those of CEOs and billionaires. Corporations have already manipulated so many aspects of our society to better benefit themselves with less regard for the greater good of the public and now it seems they are prying their greedy fingers more and more deeply into our elections as well. When candidates want to attract the attention and wallets of potential large donors and then subsequently start to become more and more dependent on this “dark money,” much of which funnels into their campaigns anonymously, their obligations are no longer with the general public. It’s frightening how much power corporations possess within our society, and it’s only growing. This needs to change, especially because the economy is our nation’s greatest concern, and we need to see significant efforts being made to improve it for all of us.
If we, the 99% want our voices to be not just heard but prioritized in the concerns and actions of our future presidents, a committed movement towards reform might be essential. Though there has been some effort towards campaign finance reform, it has been to really no avail. Not yet. A small but growing group known as 99Rise which actually began taking shape initially right in Occidental College’s backyard has acknowledged the importance and necessity of change and has started to make moves to form groups across the country to rise to the challenge. Through strategic, nonviolent action, 99Rise is committed to “building a nationwide movement waging nonviolent struggle to get Big Money out of American politics.” With the election quickly approaching the time has to be now; On September 28 (in 6 days!!!) it begins; In Los Angeles at a Bank of America and in New York City at a JPMorgan Chase the group will march in and refuse to leave until the records of all anonymous political spending are released to the public, ultimately risking arrest and potentially worse. It will be interesting to see how the banks react, how the media covers and portrays the movement, and how much interest is sparked across the country.
Check out their website and join the movement to empower democracy and get “Big Money” out of politics!