U.S. needs a spending amendment
In Virginia, 400 years ago, the first democratically elected legislative assembly was held in Jamestown. This fledgling democracy was the stepping stone to the development of democratic principles granted to every American as outlined in our Constitution.
Over the course of our history, amendments to the U.S. Constitution, supported by citizen activism at the state level, have played a critical role in expanding civil rights to all citizens, irrespective of their sex, color, or religion. These amendments have led to the abolishment of slavery and increased access to citizenship and voting rights.
Our struggle for equal representation is not over. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling held that, in the exercise of free speech, unions and corporations could spend funds on “electioneering communications” to influence political elections. This ruling effectively stripped the Congress’ and the states’ abilities to limit election spending. Opening the door to corporate and private special-interest spending has drowned out the voices of our citizens in our election process.
In recognition of this threat, on June 4, 2012, the Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse this ruling. The resolution stated that the Citizens United ruling “presents a serious and direct threat to our republican democracy.” The council stated that “political speech and spending by corporate entities to influence the political process must be regulated and made subservient to the people’s interest in authentic democracy and self-governance.”
The view of the council and its call to action is supported by 75% of all Americans, whether Democrat or Republican.
Let’s make Virginia, the birthplace of our democracy, the 21st state to call for the next amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United, allowing citizens to regain their equal voice in the democratic process. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution would allow Congress and the states to regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money to influence elections.
Let’s celebrate our freedoms but recognize that “we the people” have a role to play in our quest for a perfect union. Citizens need to raise their voices and take action to ensure that we all have a government that is for, and by, the people.