-By Dan Froomkin
January 17, 2012- WASHINGTON — What do you do when people are growing increasingly angry about the influence of money on the political system — but that very same political system is too co-opted to care?
Common Cause on Tuesday announced an attempt to put a measure on the ballot in all 50 states that would allow voters to constructively express that anger — and forcefully express their view that unlimited spending is hijacking our democracy.
"In the spirit of Occupy, we are creating the tools for as close to a national referendum as we can," said Bob Edgar, president of the nonpartisan government watchdog group.
"The potential for corruption and scandal is now the worst it's been since Watergate and Nixon's bag men," said Robert Reich, who chairs Common Cause's board. "All this is just going to get worse unless people do something dramatically to stop it."
With unlimited individual and corporate funds already rocking the political world — as unaccountable millions pour into the GOP primaries — critics have focused their ire on the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which made it all possible.
Citizens United was the most momentous of a series of Supreme Court decisions that blew an enormous hole through the post-Watergate campaign finance reforms. (Would you prefer that Stephen Colbert explained all this to you? Then see our five-part series.)
Citing its reading of the Constitution, the Supreme Court's conservative majority ruled that corporations have the same rights to political speech as people, and that there could be no limits to independent political spending.
One way to overrule Citizens United, therefore — barring a new precedent from a different Supreme Court — is to amend the Constitution.