by SHELI DELANEY, Coffee Party Cincinnati
That’s life in a swing state in a hotly-contested election cycle—it’s inescapable. And because the undecided voters in swing states like my home state of Ohio are expected to again play a critical role in the outcome of our national elections this year, it’s only going to get worse between now and November 6th.
We The People should have the power to regulate political spending, but since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, we DON'T. That’s why this election has been flooded with money from undisclosed sources.
Because 80-90% of the time, the candidate who raises the most money wins. Is that “democracy,” the way our founding fathers intended? Hardly. In fact, the founding fathers warned about the influence of corporations in our politics. Thomas Jefferson himself said, "I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country."
Why does it matter at the local level?
Because your local elections are funded by campaign donations, too! If you want to know where the disclosed money came from in the Cincinnati City Council elections in 2011, the data is here—and yes, there are plenty of PACs in there. And that’s just the donations we know about, there are plenty of donations we’ll never know the source of, because they’re not required to tell us.
Your state and local elections boards should have the same kind of information publicly available, so you can find out who’s spending what on whom in your area. Learn more about how Citizens United affects EVERY city.
So the voices and wishes of the people and groups that have the money to spend are drowning out the desires and priorities of the rest of us, that’s what! Donors may not get direct quid pro quo, but they do get access, at the very least— it’s hard to accept lots of money from someone and then refuse to speak to them. And it’s the voices our representatives hear the most and the loudest that determines what policies they promote and what laws they enact.
Our representatives often act on behalf of the moneyed interests that fund them.
A recent example of legislators not acting on legislation with broad public support was the Senate’s defeat of the DISCLOSE Act, even though a poll less than two years earlier showed the bill had overwhelming bipartisan support , with 87 percent of Republicans and over 90 percent of Democrats in favor of the measure.
Perhaps the most notorious local example of this in Cincinnati was the championing of efforts to build taxpayer-financed riverfront stadiums by Bob Bedinghaus, whose campaign for Hamilton County Commissioner subsequently benefited—one-third of the total support Bedinghaus received in 1999 was from the owners of the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals and their families, and he was re-elected just prior to lease negotiations in 2000.
And evidence that our lawmakers are following someone else’s agenda is plentiful—no one ran for office in 2010 saying they planned to pass union-busting legislation, yet that’s what they did with Ohio’s Senate Bill 5, which was later resoundingly repealed by Ohio citizens at the polls. And no one ran on a platform that included passing restrictive Voter I.D. laws to fight a virtually nonexistent voter fraud problem, yet that’s what Ohio legislators delivered. And Ohio is far from the only state involved—25 laws and 2 executive actions passed in 19 states since the beginning of 2011.
They weren’t elected to do these things, but that’s what they did—whose agenda are they working on? The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been proposing both Voter I.D. and anti-union legislation at the state level across the country, and they are funded by corporations, so there’s one clue as to who’s driving these actions. [MORE]