Elections are not only about candidates and issues. They’re also, as always, about money. BIG money.
It’s estimated that total spending on the November midterm elections will top $9.3 billion, which will surpass the midterm record of $7.1 billion in 2018.
Political donations are made directly to candidate committees, organizations like political parties that donate to candidates, Political Action Committees (PACs), and Super PACS. They’re also made to “social welfare” organizations and trade associations, which by law don’t have to disclose individual or corporate/organizational donors. This “dark money” that shields donors is used to wage outside “independent” (i.e. not supposed to be coordinated with the candidates that they are supporting) campaigns – most of which are used to fund distorting “issue” attack ads. Dark money spending is soaring in elections. Though difficult to compute, it’s estimated that dark money groups “received $2 billion to $4 billion during the 2008 to 2018 election cycles.”
Last week, Senate Republicans blocked efforts to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would have forced the disclosure of corporate and billionaire donors of dark money sources. Earlier this month, however, the Democratic National Committee panel refused to allow a vote on banning dark money in democratic primary campaigns – despite an onslaught on dark money that flooded into democratic primary campaigns targeting more progressive candidates.
This comes on the heels of the massive $1.6 billion donation by a secretive Chicago industrialist to a non-profit run by Leonard Leo, the architect of the right-wing takeover of the federal courts – some of which will be spent on elections.
Passing the DISCLOSE Act in Congress and a DNC ban on dark money in primary elections were missed opportunities. Both should happen next year.
The right to know the funding sources of political ads is a democratic necessity. But transparency by itself means little if mega wealthy individuals and corporate entities that don’t represent the interests of the vast majority of people are all the political voices we hear.
Yes, “dark” money is a big problem. But so is “light” money.
The never-ending increase in election spending – be it “dark” money or from sources we well know, is due to the decades-long constitutional ruling that political spending in elections by individuals and organizations is “free speech,” protected by the First Amendment. Abolishing “money is speech” is one part of HJR48, the We the People Amendment that with your help has secured, to date, 94 Congressional co-sponsors.
Yet, democracy is more than elections. It’s also about governing – the right to decide policies, plans and programs.
Abolishing “dark money” spending and even “money as speech” only impacts elections. Having more representative representatives by itself isn’t enough if they are limited or boxed in by constitutional limitations preventing them from improving people’s lives and communities.
Corporate rule would remain potent even without First Amendment “free speech” rights due to the corporate hijacking of Constitutional Amendments that were intended to apply exclusively to human beings.
Democratically enacted policies, plans and programs by representative representatives (or directly by individuals via ballot initiatives), for example, seeking to:
√ Label harmful ingredients on food packaging have been overturned in court as a violation of corporate First Amendment “right” not to speak
√ Ensure safe working conditions through regulatory inspections have been overturned in court as a violation of corporate Fourth Amendment search and seizure “rights.”
√ Favor local businesses over chain stores have been overturned in court as a violation of corporate Fourteenth Amendment equal protection “rights.”
√ Saving the climate by forcing fossil fuels to be kept in the ground and not burned could be overturned in court as a violation of corporate Fifth Amendment takings “rights.”
For these reasons, ALL corporate constitutional rights – not just First Amendment free speech – must end, as stipulated in the #WeThePeopleAmendment.
It’s not just dark money. It’s money as speech.
It’s not just elections. It’s governing – the right to decide – which is unattainable so long as corporations possess constitutional rights.
Shelly, George, Leila, Daniel, Saleem, Jessica, Joni, Milly, Keyan, Jason, Jennie, Tara, Alfonso & Greg
- Move to Amend National Team