If an asteroid were poised to hit the Earth or have a very near miss, would it get extensive coverage during the suspenseful period before the possible impact or would it only be newsworthy after it hit?
That’s the question we are posing to our press and media, and to our Montana and U.S. citizens.
The answer, of course, is that there would be a responsibility to inform and prepare the citizenry.
Now let me tell you something about the Supreme Court’s pending McCutcheon decision. We think that it is important enough that we are prepared to resist it, and we believe Montanans will be sympathetic when they understand why.
Try to picture this:
Picture that our democracy is like the earth and it unfortunately has entered an asteroid belt.
The asteroids that are being thrown our way are Supreme Court decisions. The biggest hit so far has been the the 2010 Citizen’s United decision that was based on the reasoning that corporations are people and money is speech. As a result, many of our campaign finance protections have been torn down, including those of our 1912 Montana Corrupt Practices Act, and our elections have been awash in “anonymous” money. Money is already beginning to pour into the 2014 election.
Now think of the threat of another direct hit. The Supreme Court has already heard the arguments in the McCutcheon v Federal Elections Commission. They invited some of the same high-priced lawyers to take part in their hearings who also took part in the Citizen’s United case.
If the McCutcheon decision follows the same line of reasoning, it would bring down remaining barriers between our lawmakers and big money and would let tremendous amounts of contributions go directly to the candidates.
This is not good. The impact of the McCutcheon decision combined with Citizen’s United could wipe out our democracy.
Other Republics have gone this way.
Even if this decision is a “near miss,” we can expect more and more well-financed Supreme Court cases built on the premise of corporations being people and money being speech.
As citizens, we can’t let the Supreme Court continue to threaten our democracy this way. We need to respond.
We need the same two-pronged defense that our state and national movements used in 1912 and 1913 when they took on the breathtaking corruption they faced. In 1912, by initiative, Montana citizens passed the Montana Corrupt Practices Act. In 1913, the 17th Amendment was ratified by the country so that senators would be elected instead of appointed (meaning bought).
We hope you will support our two efforts:
We will be having a vigil to alert the press, the media and the public about the immediacy of the danger of the pending McCutcheon Supreme Court decision. When you see us, we hope you won’t question the good intentions of your neighbors, but will support us and join us. Go to Move to Amend’s site and Pledge to Resist.
In addition, we are joining with other nonpartisan groups in a public forum in April to discuss election issues and how we can make changes now so our voices can be heard.
Every issue you hold dear, every issue you feel helpless about, actually depends on us citizens making this happen. This is a moment that only a movement can respond to. Every church that is helping the homeless, every legislator who wishes for a civil discussion, every educator who wants those children or young adults to think of themselves as citizens first rather than as consumers, can bring those concerns into this movement.
It’s our turn to step up to the plate the way that Montanans did in 1912 by fighting corruption and the whole country did in 1913 by passing a badly needed constitutional amendment. Today’s need is for the constitutional amendment that will tell the Supreme Court that corporations are not people and money isn’t speech and is just as badly needed. Nothing is going to work until we do. It’s not surprising and it’s not rocket science. It is simply our turn. We all need to step up.
Sue Kirchmyer is chairwoman of Missoula Moves to Amend, a non-partisan organization whose purpose is educating the public about the need for the Constitutional Amendment that will allow our lawmakers to effectively regulate our elections. Contact Missoula Moves to Amend on Facebook or at meetings held the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. at the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center. Please use the back entrance.