With all of the newsworthy events to consider in 2014, it’s hard to pick one to focus on. But the story that stood out most to me last year was the increasing influence of money in politics. The rise of what many call “legalized bribery” is, to me, one of the biggest stories in the state and country.
Last April, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case meant that limiting the total amount of money a single person could donate in an election was now unconstitutional. McCutcheon v. FEC could be even more dangerous than Citizens United v. FEC, which is already considered by many to be a serious blow to the democratic process.
Rulings like this only worsen the condition in politics that makes money more important than people and ideas. And many times, if the actions of a politician don’t make sense, just follow the money. When Congress has an approval rating lower than cockroaches, North Korea, and the king who opposed our independence it would make sense that such a Congress would just be voted out of office. However, incumbents tend to receive more money than challengers, and since the candidate with more money wins at least 80% of the time depending on the office, it’s easy to see how the voice of the people can be buried under cash. Then after that person wins, it’s only natural that he or she returns the favor to those donors.
To me this issue needs to be addressed before all others, because many of the things that matter most to the public are being neglected, and the average person just can’t speak as loudly as a million dollars.
There is hope, however, and California is leading the charge against cases like McCutcheon v. FEC. In June of 2014, measure AJR-1, introduced by Democrat Mike Gatto of Los Angeles was approved by the California State Assembly. The measure calls for a constitutional convention in order to add a 28th amendment which increases restrictions on campaign financing and limits the idea of “corporate personhood”. The resolution, sponsored by an organization called Wolf PAC, has also been passed in Vermont and Illinois, bringing it ever closer to the 2/3 of the states needed for a convention.
Although there were some setbacks to restoring fair elections in 2014, there were also victories that will hopefully continue into 2015. California’s AJR-1 proves that average citizens can actually make a difference and change the system.
Featured image courtesy of TaxCredits.net