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Special interest money endangering democracy

In her letter to the editor, Lynn Posner of Sheffield writes: "Across the country a movement is growing in reaction to the billions of dollars being spent to influence our elections and in turn, have undo influence over the members of our government who receive these enormous amounts cash, often in untraceable super-pacs."

To the Editor:
Here’s the problem: We, the actual people, no longer govern ourselves, no longer have a voice in what our government does. With rulings made by the Supreme Court, such as Citizens United v FEC, artificial corporate entities have been given constitutional rights that our Founders intended only for human beings. Using the Bill of Rights, wealthy individuals and corporations have persuaded the courts to overturn state, federal and even local, democratically enacted laws protecting our health, safety, environment and democracy.

By declaring money spent to influence elections to be free speech, protected by the First Amendment, the Court has allowed special interest money to flood into elections and overwhelm the voice of the average voter. The system of “one person, one vote” has become “one dollar, one vote.”

I would argue that due to the flood of special interest money into our elections, our democracy has been taken from us and to a great extent given over to multi-national entities with enormous wealth, that have no ties to America and no vested interest in her people.

Here’s the solution: Across the country a movement is growing in reaction to the billions of dollars being spent to influence our elections and in turn, have undo influence over the members of our government who receive these enormous amounts cash, often in untraceable super-pacs.

In Massachusetts the We The People Act has been introduced in the State House and Senate. The We the People Act calls on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to affirm (1) that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution are the rights of human beings only, not corporations, and (2) that Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and spending. If Congress fails to act, once 2/3 of the states have passed this legislation — the States will call for an Article 5 convention.

So far, this legislation has passed in Vermont, California and Illinois and near passing in New Jersey and Maryland. In Massachusetts, wethepeoplemass.org is represented by a coalition that includes: Move to Amend, WolfPac, MassVote and MASSPIRG among others.

Here in the Berkshires, we would like to sincerely thank state Senator Downing, Representatives Pignatelli, Farley-Bouvier and Cariddi for co-sponsoring this very important legislation. We look forward to their continued support as the bill advances this session. And we ask citizens of the Berkshires who share our concerns about the direction of our democracy to contact us at mtaberkshires@gmail.com.

Lynn Posner

Sheffield, Mass.

 

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