This is probably the worst election I remember.
Two things have made this election so terrible. First is the division and bitterness overtaking our nation and secondly the large number of dreadful ads in the media. I believe the two are connected. The nasty political ads we see and hear are feeding the discord across the country, which is encouraging the dollars that are paying for the ads.
This divide in our nation and our politics is growing. There are many causes for the growing divide, but I believe one is the growing amount of money spent on political ads especially in 2020 and 2018.
One reason for this jump in spending on political campaigns goes back to the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling. Two aspects of that ruling included granting corporations, including unions the same right of free speech as citizens, and equating money to free speech. The ruling allowed corporations and unions the right to use their general treasury funds for electioneering.
For example, look at the political spending in the 2008 and 2020 election (data from opensecrets.org). The dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation and are in 2020 dollars. In 2008, just prior to Citizens United and with no incumbent president, $3.3 billion was spent on the presidential campaign and $2.9 billion on the Congressional campaigns. In 2020, 10 years after the Citizens United ruling, with an incumbent president, $5.2 billion was spent on the presidential campaign and $5.7 billion spent on Congressional campaigns. An increase in campaign spending of 75%.
The one result of that stunning jump in spending is the bitter divide that we are seeing in our country. The foul ads that we see, read or hear are like a bellows stoking up the fires of division. Not all the ads are nasty, but many are, and many are outright lies or at least major distortions of the truth. Today because of the Citizens United ruling, we cannot control the spending, the contributions or even know who is contributing the money. The net result is the 2020 election and the estrangement of our citizens.
So, what can we do about it? One thing is to support a 28th Amendment to our Constitution. A 28th Amendment would allow Congress and the states to regulate and set limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections and distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law and prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.
To support that 28th Amendment, contact your U.S. Senators, members of Congress, and state legislators, and also contact your local elected leaders such as city councils, county boards. These local leaders represent us, and they can help demonstrate to our state and federal legislators what we want. Several Minnesota communities, such as Minneapolis St. Paul, Duluth, New Brighton, Lauderdale, North Oaks and Chaska have already passed resolutions in support of this amendment. Ask yours to follow suit.