Lynn Abbott: Democracy needs help |

Lynn Abbott: Democracy needs help

Six billion dollars. That's the amount spent on the 2012 election. How many hungry mouths could $6 billion feed? How many crumbling bridges could it repair? How many children could it educate? How many jobs could it create? What a waste.

Often the sources of this money were not disclosed, and the TV ads it spawned were negative and with little basis in fact. Lastly, and most worrisome, large gifts of money tend to come with expectations of specific policy decisions. Is this really the way we want our government policies to be decided?

Money in politics long has been a problem, but it was dramatically exacerbated in 2010 when the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. With that decision, the court essentially declared that corporations are people and money is speech and that both are protected by the U.S. Constitution. This decision opened the floodgates for a river of money to flow into our political system. It swamped the 2012 election and will undoubtedly inundate the 2014 midterm elections. Our democracy needs our help.

Fortunately, help is coming our way. Move to Amend is a national coalition of people and organizations dedicated to getting money out of politics. Its spokesperson, Ashley Sanders, is touring Colorado this week and will be in Steamboat at 7 p.m. today in the Commissioners Hearing Room at the Routt County Courthouse. (Please park in the lot behind the courthouse and use the back entrance.) She will speak about challenging corporate power and re-establishing our democracy. She will outline the history of the American Constitution regarding corporate personhood and undemocratic but currently legal corporate constitutional rights. We will learn how we can work together to get big money out of politics and establish a government truly of, by and for the people.

In order to accomplish this, we must pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is no small task: Two-thirds of the House and two-thirds the Senate must approve the proposed amendment. Then it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. However, it has been done 27 times before and can be done again. As of last week, 14 states and 175 cities have passed resolutions supporting such an amendment. Change starts at the grass-roots level, and there definitely is a grass-roots momentum building across the country. You can be part of it by joining us in this challenging but very worthwhile task.

For more information, call Lynn Abbott at 970-870-6673 or Move to Amend at 707-269-0984.

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Lynn Abbott

Steamboat Springs