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Doesn’t the name Citizens United conjure up images of people standing at attention and putting their hands over their hearts? The name of this group resonates of passionate American citizens working together to bring this great nation together and ensure prosperity. However, this could not be further from reality. 

Citizens United is a misleading front name for a group of people who believe our elections should be flooded with unlimited corporate spending. The 2012 campaign season is revealing the impact of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling usurping 100 years of state protections – it has opened the floodgates to a torrent of unaccountable financial contributions.

For those of us who choose to participate in democracy, the 2012 election cycle is playing out with unprecedented funding and negative attack ads paid for by subversive super PACs. The negative tone of these ads affects the voice we all hold in our democracy. For years candidates and advocacy groups ran on the platform “every vote counts.” It is hard to believe this idea holds true if million dollar contributions are held in contrast to my ability to support a candidate with a $20 donation. Is the real motivation of Citizens United to create a decisive divide among citizens? Personally, I am concerned that all this negative campaigning creates a more cynical and disengaged electorate. Ultimately, I fear it will suppress voter participation, especially among young voters.

MontPIRG is hosting a debate over I-166 on Monday Sept. 24 in the UC Theater at 7. The initiative aims to restore fairness, transparency, and civic participation in our elections by getting the BIG money out. Opponents of I-166 have been called upon to justify their agenda – to create a system where unlimited, secret, untraceable money dominates our elections. Will they show up to debate?

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Sean McQuillan,

MontPIRG,

Missoula

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