Fed Up With Money Influencing Politicians? Here’s How We Can Fight Back


By Carolanne Wright

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

With the U.S. presidential election in full-swing, money in politics is a hot topic, as more people wake-up to the fact that our so-called representatives are beholden to big money and special interests. The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010 essentially opened the floodgates for political spending by corporations, unions and the wealthy, where unlimited amounts of money could be spent on political activities, as long as it happened independently of a candidate or party. This in turn resulted in a deluge of cash aimed at super PACs, which are only slightly independent of the candidates they support. Another ill-effect of the ruling is that much of the funding doesn’t need to be publicly disclosed — in other words, it’s “dark money.”

In truth, Citizens United is just the tip of the iceberg. If we truly want a government by and for the people, we need to address the entire problem, not just one highly publicized aspect. We also have to shift our thinking, from one of anger about corruption to a focus on empowerment. A small, but steady movement is underway doing just that, which has everyone, from Congressmen to average citizens and nonpartisan anti-corruption organizations, mobilizing — and making impressive strides.

How to Use Small Solutions to Solve a Big Problem

We’ve been hearing for years about the shift from mega malls, fast food restaurants and chain stores, to supporting local farmers and businesses — which has made a significant impact on revitalizing communities. It’s no different when we consider reforming our political landscape. Instead of asking Congress “to dismantle the same system that put them into power,” it’s time to resolve the issue at a local level.

Writes Charlotte Hill in Sick of Money Corrupting Politics? Take the Fight Local:

“Every time a citywide Anti-Corruption Act passes, it will both clean up local politics and send a clear signal to state and local politicians: get on the right side of this issue now, while you still can. And here’s where the strategy gets especially exciting. Whenever a state passes an Anti-Corruption Act, political candidates will be able to run publicly funded campaigns – including those individuals running for federal office. That means we can help reform-minded members of Congress get elected without passing federal legislation. Every state we win gets us one crucial step closer to electing enough “good guys” to enact federal reform.”

It’s easy to fall into complacency because the problem of corruption in government seems massive and overwhelming. Here’s where the brilliance of acting locally comes into play. When meaningful policy triumphs in municipalities and states, it gives people a tangible reason to believe they have a voice in how their country is run. As the local victories continue to mount, the momentum becomes stronger — until it ultimately reaches Washington for overall reform.

A case in point is how local wins have caught the eye of several members of Congress and made them aware of the issue. And now, they’re working toward creative solutions with a broader scope.

Taking the Fight to Congress

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) is seriously concerned about special interest money and voter cynicism — both of which feed a vicious cycle of governmental corruption. He proposes a bill that will solve each problem with a single set of reforms. The first is a “My Voice” tax credit (if you contribute, say, $25 to a campaign, you receive $25 off your tax bill). Next is a 6-to-1 “Freedom from Influence” matching fund, where, for every $1 you spend, the government contributes $6 in public funding. It’s an exceptionally effective way to counter the influence big corporations, unions and the wealthy have over our politicians, by leveling the playing field and giving the average person a say in who should represent us.

“While everyone is realistic about the challenges ahead, the call-to-action to seize political opportunity is clear. “Somebody is going to own your government,” says Sarbanes (D-MD). “Either it’s going to be big money and special interests, or it’s going to be everyday citizens. So let’s design a system that puts you in charge.”’ [source]


People Are the Reason Behind the Dilemma — and Also the Answer

Adam Smith, communications director at Every Voice, asks why we talk about out-of-control political spending as if it’s some kind of natural disaster, that appeared of its own accord, when the problem is entirely created by humans.

“It’s people who have created a system that forces candidates to travel around the country like it’s a giant Monopoly game, scooping up checks as they circle the board. It’s a man-made problem that members of Congress spend a majority of their time raising money from the wealthiest among us, skewing the public policy debate in Washington, DC, and statehouses around the country.” [source]

There really is no “passing the buck” on this one — we’ve created it, we can also undo it. Smith believes there are five elements for taking back our government:

  • First, everyone should know who’s spending what in our politics. We need more transparency and better disclosure mechanisms.
  • Second, everyone should play by common sense rules. Regulators like the FEC, the SEC, the IRS and state agencies all have a role to play in enforcement.
  • Third, everyone must be held accountable. If politicians break the rules, they need to face the consequences.
  • Fourth, everyone should be heard. That’s not possible as long as decisions like Citizens United allow the wealthy to speak louder than everyone else.
  • Finally, we should encourage everyone to participate in the political process through matching funds and rebates on small donations.

Says Charlotte Hill of Represent.Us:

“To paraphrase the sticker on your car mirror, victory is closer than it may appear. But it is not inevitable. The powerful elites served by our corrupt system will throw up roadblocks every step along the way. To defeat them, we must relentlessly demand that politicians at every level – federal, state, and hometown – live up to the Republic envisioned by our [nation’s] Founders. One that truly represents us. Are you in?”

Article sources:

About the author:

Carolanne WrightCarolanne Wright enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years.

Through her website Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. You can also follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Further reading from Carolanne Wright:


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