Citizens United is Destroying our Democracy

Every once and a while, someone asks me why I’m a Democrat. They come up with generic answers like, “it must be because you’re for gay marriage, you’re for abortion, you’re for more government handouts.” While most of these can be considered Democratic issues, they’re mainly social “feel good” issues that really no politician on either side of the aisle ever really deals with. Whenever I tell them that I’m actually a Democrat because I support their Democratic stance on issues such as unionization, collective bargaining, and a graduated tax system, I get plenty of strange looks. Everyone on the right screams that Democrats want to “punish success” with greater taxes and more regulations. However, that’s like saying that parents “punish” their children by correcting them when they need it. Millionaires and billionaires in this country have been skating by, acting however they want without being corrected.

When President Bush was in office, he passed tax breaks that were supposed to alleviate costs on these individuals and help them “create jobs,” something that has never worked. Rather than creating more jobs, they simply lined their pockets with the extra money and through huge bonuses, bought themselves brand new yachts, or simply hid it away in their offshore bank account so it couldn’t be taxed. Tax breaks for the rich do not create jobs, period. This is something that is proven by cold hard facts, something Republicans don’t care about dealing with. All it does is take revenue away from the federal government, placing a strain on the budget and forcing cuts elsewhere, such as education. This is something that Democrats have been fighting to reverse but the wealthiest Americans have lined up with the Republicans to stop this from happening. After the Citizens United ruling in 2010, allowing unlimited political expenditures by corporations, millionaires and billionaires jump in head first bankrolling political candidates.

Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, spent over $100 million on political campaigns in support of Republican candidates. Harold Simmons invested $26 million on Republicans candidates. Joe Ricketts invested $13 million on Republicans. And you can’t forget those amazing Koch brothers who spent $400 million on Republican candidates. Now when you look at all the money that these few individuals are spending on candidates, you would think that they should be broke by now. But for many, this is just pocket change. Adelson’s net worth is roughly $21 billion, and made $1.2 billion last year alone. So why are they investing so much on these candidates? It’s quite simple. They spend a few million dollars and, if they win, magically their taxes get lowered. Also, Republicans begin dismantling collective bargaining rights and unionization, something that forces a fairer wage for working citizens in America. Republicans have been going hard after unions as of late and it’s for this very reason. They want to protect their money flow from these donors.

Adelson was asked last year if he was sad about his losses in the election and he said that he was ready to double his donations next time around. He said “I happen to be in a unique business where winning and losing is the basis of the entire business. So I don’t cry when I lose. There’s always another hand coming up. I know in the long run we’re going to win.” If this doesn’t send chills up America’s back I don’t know what will. These men will continue investing in political candidates who will push for their agendas and we are virtually powerless to stop them. In the same interview, Adelson said he had many friends in Washington because of his “pocket personality.” Congressmen are so worried about making sure these individuals are writing them checks during their next election, that they don’t care that the policies they’re pushing is going to destroy the lower and middle class of Americans. This is why Citizens United must be overturned.

California is taking the steps to try and force this move. California is not only the most populous state in the US, but also has the 9th largest economy in the entire world. The citizens are pushing for a ballot measure to urge a Congressional vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. The desire for a constitutional amendment has been growing slowly across the country. This is just the spark that it needs to really engulf the nation. So no matter your state, follow California’s example and push your state to support a constitutional amendment and give our elections back to ‘we the people.’

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