Our recent Minnesota legislative session is over again without any action to get big money out of politics and address campaign finance reform. We deserve better.
How strongly do Americans feel about getting big money out of politics? Citizens of all political stripes overwhelmingly: 71 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats, and 81 percent of independents believe reducing the influence of money in politics is important. Free speech is not free, and Americans feel they lack political influence.
Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission (2010), have made it unconstitutional to regulate campaign contributions in any way. Money is speech, and the few checks and balances which do still exist can be easily circumvented through gaping loopholes.
Spending by candidates and outside groups on Minnesota campaigns for office was estimated to be $57 million in 2018 and this trend is continuing. A small group of people is exerting a major influence on our elections by providing an increasing share of campaign donations. This results in elected officials becoming beholden to large donors.
When a candidate is sworn into office, the whole cycle begins again with even more money being sought to guarantee election. This is a huge danger to our democracy.
The good news is that there is a movement of Republicans, Democrats and independents who are finding common ground and organizing to establish limits to contributions.
This dangerous trend away from our democracy into oligarchy can be stopped. We as citizens need to take action.
As we recently honored those who have made the great ultimate sacrifice to protect our democracy on Memorial Day, we should all consider what we are willing to do now for future generations.