The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

April 16, 2014

Return of the Robber Barons

— The five conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court seem to be doing everything in their power to change our country from a democracy (government by the people) to a plutocracy (government by the richest people).  

In the wake of Watergate-era abuses Congress enacted campaign contribution limits to discourage big contributors from trying to buy votes and to restore public confidence in the campaign finance system.  In a series of rulings in recent years, the Supreme Court has struck down several provisions of federal law aimed at limiting the influence big donors have over our government.

Four years ago in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” the Supreme Court ruled corporations are “people” and have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaign activities. More than $71.8 million dollars was poured into the 2012 federal elections by corporations with an additional $396 million spent by 132 individuals. The result has been that wealthy donors have significantly more influence over our democracy and lawmakers.

Recently the Supreme Court handed down another decision that further erodes American democracy by allowing rich and powerful individuals to increase their already outsized influence. In a 5-to-4 ruling in “McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission,” the Supreme Court struck down some of the last remaining limits on how much money wealthy donors can contribute to electoral campaigns. Equating money with speech, the conservative justices ruled that individuals are now free to dump as much as $3.5 million directly into political committees and campaigns in each election cycle making it easier than ever for super-rich corporate donors to buy elections.

I believe we deserve a country where the people have the power and our elected officials aren’t bought and paid for by wealthy individuals like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. It is time to get these vast amounts of influence buying money out of our political system and restore the power to the voting citizens. Our representatives must be responsive to the concerns of all Americans, not just the extremely wealthy.

I would urge you to contact Senator Robert Casey, Senator Pat Toomey, and your congressman/congresswoman and tell them take action to overturn “Citizens United” and “McCutcheon.” Encourage them to enact reasonable campaign financing and spending limits to ensure that all citizens can have their voices heard in Washington. Otherwise we risk returning to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century when the Robber Barons ruled and government corruption was rampant.

David B. Kyle,

New Columbia

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