What’s wrong with Money in Politics?
- Moneyed interests are often unconcerned with good government.
- Moneyed interests tend to make laws more complicated by inserting their specific (self-interested) demands. Complex laws make for BIGGER, less efficient government.
- Money interests will often encourage government to ‘pick a winner.’
- Moneyed interests tend to favor privatizing profits and socializing losses.
- Lobbyists, whose expertise is often needed in the legislative process, are now the same people most directly funding the politician’s campaign, thus compromising the objectivity of the exchange.
- Lobbyists gain such continued and familiar access to elected officials that policy focus is shifted away from representation of the actual constituency.
- Policies not related to money, but instead to issues like family values, civil rights, diversity or conservative social ideals, may be overwhelmed by political deal-making that seeks first and foremost to serve moneyed interests.
- Moneyed interests will support incumbent politicians just to gain access to committees or other political allies. This distorts the actual interests of the voters, and makes voter-instigated change much more difficult.
- The job of collecting money is too distracting. Not all of the players in the ‘arms race’ of campaign financing are willing participants. Many are dragged along. Many are rendered ineffective by the demands of constant campaigning and fundraising. This issue goes WAY beyond a simplistic case of ‘quid pro quo.’ This is systemic corruption.
- Money is NOT free speech. Money is just a volume knob on certain speech from certain political special interests.
- Corporate personhood, when combined with America’s treaty law, can actually result in the surrender of the sovereignty of federal, state and local governments to foreign moneyed interests.
- Small businesses, the engine of the Main Street economy, find that they now need to compete not only in the marketplace but in the in political arena. More than two-thirds of all small business owners disagree with Citizens United and even more complain that money in politics is bad for business.
- Money in Politics corrupts the fundamental vision of a democracy by and for the PEOPLE.
While money in politics does not always come from what we might all agree is a “moneyed interest,” it is important to understand that the distorting effects of money can be just as damaging in the hands of those with the best of intentions. The complaint here is not that those with money are wrong. It is the role of money itself that is wrong. Money should not be the final authority in determining what is discussed, what is heard, what is right or wrong or implemented or ignored.
Statement to the Committee
NJOCU’s Mark Doenges spoke and answered questions before the New Jersey State Senate’s State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee in June of 2012. The following was his prepared statement.
Hello, honorable state legislators and committee members. I’ve been asked by the people who support Senator Van Drew’s bill before you today to offer some of my thoughts on this issue.
Loudness. If I were to speak to the committee today at 140 decibels, it would drown out every other voice in the room. No one could hear anything but me. I want you to understand that those of us who see problems stemming from the Citizens United decision and the role of money in politics, do not want to silence any views or curtail the freedom of speech. We don’t come here today with specific legal language for US Constitution, nor do we think that every idea in the Supreme Court’s decision is without merit. Certainly, the realities of campaign laws and reforms are complex.
But Loudness is not a right. If I spoke at 140 decibels, I would not only silence everyone else in this room, I would deafen them. Permanently. Forget about telling me to be civil, because I wouldn’t hear you either. If I were in your neighborhood, or on a street corner, or in the halls of Congress, I would not merely be shushed, I would be arrested. And the laws of the land would uphold that arrest.
People throughout America can tell that money is yelling. My suspicion is that even the sliver of people who don’t fully understand or admit it yet, still know it’s true. Americans aren’t asking for certain ideas to be censored or for certain people or modes of communication to be limited. We are simply saying that we all ~ we the people ~ have a right to free speech. And our rights are being trammeled.
We also fundamentally disagree with the notion that corporations are people. Yes, they have shareholders. But they also have management, employees and customers. So who then is this person? Corporations in fact are artificial entities chartered, as state legislators would understand very well, by State statutes. The word corporation does not appear in the U.S. Constitution anywhere.
Having said this, I want to make clear that this bill says nothing ill of corporations or of their role in society. This bill is certainly not anti-business. Indeed it is pro-business. Small business owners are right there among the people in this country who are saddened to see money treated as speech. They may already be competing with larger, louder companies in the marketplace. Now they find they are expected to compete in politics? That is not their mission. Small business owners argue that money in politics is the foundation of cronyism, and that small businesses are likely losers. When polled, two thirds of small business owners stood against the Citizens United decision and nearly 9 out of 10 viewed the role of money in politics negatively. The last I looked, 70 percent of America’s jobs were in small businesses. It is the engine that underpins our economy.
Loudness. It is not a right. In commerce it may be the spoils of victory, but in a democracy we want to be able hear what is being said. We want the right of free speech to endure for ALL. The simple, inescapable truth is that right now, Americans are going deaf. They are losing faith in the institutions of their governance. They’re losing faith in our elections. They are losing faith in our future. But understand that people have not yet lost their voice. We are here today to be heard. Join us and a growing national movement in taking this issue to the US Congress for remedy. These are critical times in our country’s history and we cannot afford a broken democracy. This is NOT a backburner issue upon which we should hem and haw. This is not a partisan issue with an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ This is about the voice of the people. I ask you to join it.