-By Dennis Kucinich & Russell Simmons
January 21, 2012- This is not a progressive issue or a conservative issue. This is not a Tea Party issue or a liberal issue. This is an American issue. Money is destroying our politics and our political system. The signs are everywhere. A "super PAC" supporting Mitt Romney spent $3.5 million to knock Newt Gingrich out of the lead in Iowa. A super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich is spending a greater amount of money to return the favor to Mitt Romney in South Carolina. Our electoral system has become such a joke that two late-night comedians are now actually participating in it and are generating great laughter just by demonstrating how it operates.
In the past, Congress has made two bipartisan efforts to control the impact of money on our elections, first in the early 1970s and more recently with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, known as "McCain-Feingold." Both of these laws tried to restrict the influence of money on our elections. But after each of these efforts, the Supreme Court kicked down the door and allowed campaign money to flow more freely.
First, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Court held that money is the equivalent of "free speech" under the First Amendment, and that no act of Congress could restrict the amount of money that an individual could contribute to his or her own campaign or expend in support of another person's campaign as long as that expenditure was "independent" of the campaign. This decision gave the "one percent" a voice in our elections that greatly exceeds the concept of "one citizen-one vote."
Then, exactly two years ago today in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court went off the deep end and ruled that corporations are "persons" under the First Amendment and that no act of Congress could restrict the amount of money a corporation could spend in an election. This decision gives all U.S. corporations, and all U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations, every right to participate in our elections that individual U.S. citizens have, excepting only the right to actually vote.