A little over two years ago, the Supreme Court made a misguided decision that has radically changed the electoral landscape in this country. The court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC built on an earlier decision that said money was speech, and it said that Congress could not limit the spending of money by outside groups (like super-PACs) to influence elections (nor could it limit the amount of money that individuals or corporations could donate to those outside groups).
This decision has resulted in many millions of dollars being donated to outside political groups (by a few rich people and corporations) and spent to support political candidates. Around 44% of the political spending this year has been done by outside groups like super-PACs, instead of campaigns or political parties. And since there is no limit on donations are spending, it is now a sad fact that the rich have a much bigger voice in elections than ordinary Americans do (and therefore can demand more from the politicians they support).
It was realized almost immediately, by everyone but the right-wingers on the Supreme Court, that this decision was a bad one, which would give the rich the ability to virtually buy elections -- propelling the country away from truly democratic elections and toward a rule by the rich (plutocracy). A majority of Americans opposed the court decision.
And that is still true today. A new Associated Press/National Constitution Center Poll, conducted in August 2012 of 1,006 random national adults, shows that a huge majority supports limits on campaign donations for both individuals and corporations -- and that support cuts across party lines (and includes Independents). Here are some of the numbers:
PERCENTAGE SAYING THERE SHOULD BE A LIMIT ON THE AMOUNT AN INDIVIDUAL CAN DONATE.
PERCENTAGE SAYING THERE SHOULD BE A LIMIT ON THE AMOUNT OF MONEY A CORPORATION OR OTHER GROUP CAN DONATE TO AN OUTSIDE GROUP TO INFLUENCE A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN.
And one result from the poll that was mildly surprising was that high-income households (those making more than $100,000 a year) supported limiting donations by both individuals and corporations by higher percentages than the other groups. About 75% wanted limits on individual giving, and a whopping 90% wanted limits on corporate giving.
With majorities this large wanting political donations to be limited, it is time for the politicians of both political parties to unite and make it happen -- even if it takes a constitutional amendment to do it.