$pecial Interest Government is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Despite much hand-wringing by presidential candidates bemoaning a divided US, we the people are in agreement on many issues, including what is undermining our democracy. Frances Moore Lappé and Giulio Caperchi, writing for BillMoyers.com outline it for us based on a 2014 study covering both blue and red states.

  • Climate change. Americans’ concern about global warming is at an eight-year high, with a record 65 percent of us now blaming human activity for rising temperatures.

  • Gun controlEighty-five percent of Americans — including large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats — favor closing gun-sale loopholes by enforcing background checks for private gun sales and at gun shows.

  • Our federal tax system. Six in 10 of us believe that upper-income Americans do not pay enough in taxes, while 82 percent are bothered — either “some” or “a lot” — that corporations are not paying their fair tax share.

  • The influence of big business. More than three-quarters of Americans believe that large corporations and a few rich people wield excessive and unfair power in this country. A whopping 71 percent of Americans across the political spectrum believe that the economy is rigged in favor of a few special interests.

  • Special interests’ influence in our political institutionsEighty-four percent of Americans think that money has too much influence in elections. Nearly 8 in 10 favor limits on both raising and spending money in congressional campaigns. Meanwhile, 78 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of Republicans, want to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that further opened the floodgates to corporate campaign spending, including spending from undisclosed sources.

Image by Feral78 Flickr/creative commons

Image by Feral78
Flickr/creative commons

Yes, you read that right, a full 80% of Republicans have joined Democrats and Independents in condemning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. As I have written before, I remember Dan Massey proclaiming on the day of that decision, “That’s the end of the US.” Turns out he was right.

Democracy as we knew it was no longer to be the product of the people. Once the Supreme Court ruled, corporations gained rights once constitutionally owned by persons, contrary to all US law up until that time. A corporation is a thing and not capable of acting as a person, but all that was denied by the court. Add to that, corporations were now able to conduct financial support for candidates without revealing the sources of these funds, “dark money.”

We urge all of you to get involved somehow in the movement to overturn Citizens United, the one thing that can rescue our democracy from the jaws of defeat. Hillary Clinton has pledged to do this but we cannot rely on a campaign promise, nor one based on the passage of Constitutional Amendment that requires the approval of 38 of our 50 states. One only has to look at the failure of the Equal Rights Movements‘ Constitutional Amendment, demanding equal rights for women, which never recovered from its stalled path through state approvals.

Besides just signing a petition, Democracy Is For People outlines specific actions you can take right now, and gives you the tools you’ll need.

Tell Your Senator to Co-Sponsor a Constitutional Amendment to Get Money Out of Politics

Call on Candidates to Take a People’s Pledge to Block Dark Money from Their Race

Gather Petition Signatures in Your Community

Join the Stamp Stampede to Stamp Money Out of Politics

Get involved in state efforts in ArkansasIowa,  New HampshireNew York and Washington or check out the map to see what is happening in your state.

Sign up to Pass a Resolution in Your Town

Pass a Resolution on Your Campus

Tell the SEC to End Secret Corporate Political Spending

Hopefully, you now have fewer reasons to just sit back and do nothing.


Also see: More On Why We Can’t Have Nice Things and Robert Reich On Why We Can”t Have Nice Things.

Alison Gardner