While America’s foreign policy challenges and other critical issues dominated the Senate floor on Wednesday, debate on the Democracy for All amendment continued for a third day.
Those opposed to getting money out of politics are even sounding like they’re on our side.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri
But if people are paying attention, the points that will be scored will be scored by those defending the Bill of Rights and those defending the Constitution . . . For those who want to defend the Constitution, count me on their side.
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa:
[P]olitical speech is essential to the American way of life.
They ignore the fact that their points are very much among those that inspired Democracy for All in the first place.
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, lead sponsor of the Democracy for All amendment:
Changing the Constitution is a big step not to be taken lightly. In the Federalist Paper No. 49, James Madison argued the Constitution should be amended only on ‘‘great and extraordinary occasions.’’ I agree. I also believe we have reached one of those occasions.
Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts:
Our democracy is based on the fundamental principle that all voters, and each and every vote cast, are created equal. People, not dollars, are the true currency of our Constitution and democracy.
Senator Jon Tester of Montana:
[M]y wife and I still farm, and for part of August I had the pleasure to be able to be on the tractor and have some quality time to think about what makes our Nation great. There are many reasons, but one of them is the belief that everyone has a say in the decisions we make in this democracy, that each of us—from the richest to the poorest—has an equal stake in electing our leaders and impacting how we govern. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has not figured that out.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont:
So of all of the issues out there— whether you are concerned about education, health care, the environment, the economy—the most important issue underlying all of those issues is the need to end this disastrous Supreme Court decision which allows billionaires to buy elections. That is not what people fought and died for in the name of democracy. That is called oligarchy. Abraham Lincoln talked about a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, not a government of the billionaires, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires, and that is where we are today.
I hope the American people are watching. The media has not paid, for interesting reasons, a lot of attention to this issue, but there is no domestic issue that I can think of more important for the future of this country.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio:
If it were not for the political pressure, the money that just rolls across the political landscape, that washes across the candidates for the Senate, the candidates for the House, we could pass the minimum wage. But Members of the Senate, when they think about voting on this, they think about the big money that might come in against them if they vote for the minimum wage.
Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado:
We can see this corruption in the difficult decisions we avoid. It is the tough vote that we will not take. It is the bill we can’t pass even in the face of urgent need. It is the deal that can’t be reached. It is the speech that is never made. It is the story of the do-less than the do-nothing Congress.
You can find these passages and more from Wednesday’s debate here.
PS – A special shout-out to Senator Udall for quoting “The First Amendment, According to Mitch McConnell” by PFAW President Michael Keegan.
A good rule of thumb in politics is that the scarier someone sounds, the more you should doubt what they’re saying.