People For the American Way hosted a panel (entire video) on Capitol Hill as part of a month of action surrounding the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The panel showcased the rapidly growing movement across the country to address the threat to our democracy from unrestrained corporate spending to influence our elections through a constitutional amendment. The American people have had enough of corporations and special interests holding the puppet strings in our democracy and are taking a stand in the halls of government – from city council and state legislative chambers to the halls of the U.S. Congress – by mobilizing our elected officials in support of amending the Constitution to ensure that “We the People” means all the people, not just the privileged few.
The panelists discussed the nationwide effort to restore the balance of power to the people and described their experiences in organizing toward and successfully advocating for resolutions to overturn Citizens United.
Senator Tom Udall described the necessity of bipartisan support on the path toward ratifying a constitutional amendment, noting that past campaign-finance reform efforts have enjoyed bipartisan support. Senator Udall acknowledged that when the people make their voices heard and build momentum, a constitutional amendment can become inevitable.
Colorado Common Cause activist Elena Nuñez discussed the grassroots enthusiasm behind stopping the flood of corporate influence in our elections. Time after time, noted Nuñez, local issues have been hijacked by out-of-state special interests, and activists are eager to organize around a constitutional amendment to stop the source of this problem.
Representative Keith Ellison described the court-led return to the “gilded age” and drew parallels to today’s progressive movement, concluding that a constitutional amendment is both possible and necessary to ensure that our government serves the people, not corporate special interests.
New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito described NYC’s determination to take a stand on the issue of money in politics and serve as an example for municipalities around the country. She described the significant campaign finance rules in place in New York, which serve to protect the people who would be disenfranchised simply because they lack the funds to compete with corporate lobbyists.
Representative Ted Deutch described the toxic political atmosphere created by the Super PAC fueled ads made possible by Citizens United, and that a constitutional amendment is the only way to prevent the corrosive effects of a government beholden to corporate special interests instead of the people’s interests.
Maryland State Senator and People For the American Way senior fellow Jamie Raskin discussed the consequences of the Citizens United decision as a shift away from the core principle of democracy “by, of and for the people.” The decision, Senator Raskin noted, brings radical changes to the nature of our democratic system, interpretations of constitutional law and even our imperils our economic system by incentivizing “vulture capitalism” or “crony capitalism.”