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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Will the Supreme Court Vote for Voters, Please? Eliot Cutler and Governor Angus King Call for Voters to Rise Above Supreme Court Citizens United

Eliot Cutler introduces Governor Angus King - Two Independents Calling for Leadership in Politics
In Topsham, Maine June 2012

Sadly, super wealthy contributors to political action committees (PACs) received renewed support by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Citizens United ruling. Money is now influencing politics more so than voters.  

When will the Supreme Court rule in favor of voters?

Two Maine Independent political leaders joined voices against expensive negative campaign advertising paid for by unregulated political action committees, while speaking to supporters in Topsham, ME last Sunday.  

Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler (I) introduced Governor Angus King (I) to supporters enthusiastic about chances for an Independent to win the 2012 US Senate seat, open since Senator Olympia Snowe announced her retirement.  King is running for that Senate seat.

Cutler and King rallied guests at a June yard party to vote for change in Washington DC. They asked voters to reject polarized government by electing King, an Independent, to fill Maine's open Senate seat.  

But, political change needs money. In other words, candidates, especially Independents, need a lot of money, more so now, since Citizens United has gushed unregulated money into politics like fire hydrants uncapped on a hot summer day.

Although Democratic and Republican parties funnel money to preferred candidates, the Independent candidates, those who can leverage influence in political processes, are hampered by their access to campaign contributions from national PACs.  Before the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, the Independent Candidates could often keep up with fund raising by Democratic and Republican opponents.  But, not now.  Citizens United allows unlimited contributions by anonymous individuals to PACs that use huge donations to saturate voters with paid negative advertising. 

Voters should demand the Citizens United ruling be overturned by new campaign finance laws.  Senator John McCain says this unbridled use of money in politics will poison the process for everyone.

Unfortunately, turning the tide on the tsunami of money pouring into PACs will take a Bow Echo weather system to reverse. 

Cutler and King have been somewhat effective breaking through the fortress of money paid to oppose them in Maine, but that's in the past.  Now, with national focus on King's Senate race, the PAC money unleashed by Citizens United is expected to find it's way into the state's politics, to likely support Republicans.  Batten down the hatches for a rough Senate campaign season!

Senator John McCain created a national outcry for campaign finance reform, but reforms passed with bi-partisan support are now dead. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA, McCain–Feingold Act, Pub.L. 107-155)

"Senator John McCain, who helped rewrite the nation's campaign finance laws, said ...(the) Supreme Court ruling removing limits from corporate spending on political advertising means that campaign finance reform is dead."

But political leadership can bring hope for campaign reform resurgence. 

Angus King says he's running for US Senate for the very reason Senator Olympia Snowe stated in her retirement message.  "The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly, I do not see it happening in the near future" she said, as reported in the Washington Post.

For whatever reason, ie, political, judicial, Constitutional or something else, the august body of our United States Supreme Court has upheld that money has the same freedom of speech rights as people do.  In other words, in my opinion, this means bribery is now a freedom of speech issue.  

Let's be clear. Political action committees don't shower candidates with unlimited financial support just because they feel like it - this is done to achieve influence over the candidates.  When candidates win as a result, they appoint their financial supporters (who are now anonymous) to key leadership positions. When key leadership positions are filled by party favorites, the bought and paid for candidates will have another constituency beyond the people they are elected to represent.  

Our democracy risks being owned. 

Candidates can become like thoroughbred race horses.  A trifecta winning will be to the political action committee rich enough to influence all three branches of government.

Angus King for Senate 2012 and Eliot Cutler for Maine Governor in 2014, are two true statesmen. They are Independents who can begin the sea turn against partisan politics as usual. But, winning candidates clearly need the mother's milk of politics to pull off victories when the Citizens United ruling allows their opponents to to tip the scales in favor of negative advertising paid for by the richest PACs.

Voters must rise above the Citizens United ruling. We must unite as citizens who oppose unregulated political action committee ownership of our elections.

We need political leaders who will influence the appointment of a Supreme Court that favors democracy run by voters- the responsibility of a US Senator, when a president puts forth a judicial nominee.  

Mainers need to elect Governor Angus King to the US Senate because, by his leadership, he can begin the process of bringing democracy back to the voters.

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