Jeff Clements: Money in Politics Amendment Due |
Jeff Clements the fulcrum
“We are under an avalanche. No one can hear us, and we cannot hear each other.”
This is my friend, David Trahan. He is a lumberjack in Waldoboro, Maine. He is also a former Republican senator in the state legislature and heads the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. Trahan and SAM represent the interests of 300,000 Maine residents who hunt, fish and trap in the state’s vast forests, rivers and lakes. SAM is also Maine’s leading advocate for the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Under an avalanche. Trahan talks about the 2020 U.S. Senate race between incumbent Susan Collins and her Democratic challenger, Sarah Gideon. In a predominantly rural state with a small population, billionaires, businesses, large unions and various front groups from Washington, DC and a few other cities have spent more than $ 200 million to bury Maine voters in a bombing to the relentless bomb of division, misinformation and fear. The dirty game was completely bipartisan and a snapshot of what Americans in every state are up against. Indeed, at $ 200 million, Maine didn’t even make the top five in big-budget Senate elections.
Trahan has become a leader in the American Promise constitutional amendment campaign to fix this problem for good. Like most Americans, he wants an amendment to the United States Constitution so that we can have fair limits on the amount of money anyone can contribute or spend in elections.
Trahan was happy that Collins had been re-elected. He has been supporting her for a long time. But the victory of his candidate does not make him less concerned about the future of America without this amendment to the American Promise in the Constitution. And he has high hopes that Collins can help make it happen, and, he says, for good reason.
Collins has long believed that the power of a few people to use their money to control elections violates the equal rights of all Americans.
She was one of the leaders in passing the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which limited the ability of billionaires, businesses, unions, foreign governments and others to do so. get a lot of money into elections through super PACs and “black money” channels.
This bipartisan law is now obsolete only because the Supreme Court overturned it – along with many other federal and state anti-corruption laws – by fabricating a wacky new theory on the First Amendment. Political agents from corporations and big money have sold the court the idea that those with a lot of money – whether human beings, global corporations, big government unions or super PACs black money – have the right to “free speech” to spend that much. money because they want to take control of our government and our officials, no matter the cost to other Americans.
Money is freedom of speech? Are companies people? So say Supreme Court justices (none of whom have ever run for local office, and few have ever spoken with a jury of Americans at a local courthouse or State).
Americans don’t buy the “money is the talk” experience, and for one simple reason. After a decade in the laboratory of American democracy, the experience was a disaster for the country. No one who cannot afford the new price of admission for “speech” feels represented, respected or even connected with elected politicians and the government that results from the big money attack game. Almost all of us are now “under the avalanche”.
Early in his career, Collins counter-argued the “money is free speech” theory. “Why should I [the big money] question, we are asked by those who are too eager to equate freedom of speech with freedom to spend. This should matter because political equality is the essence of democracy, and an electoral system driven by a lot of money lacks political equality. “
How money is used in elections is central to the equal rights of Americans. All Americans, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, have the right to participate in elections, to be represented, to have the opportunity to be heard, and to debate issues and candidates. These rights cannot be bought or sold because they belong to everyone. As Trahan says, “Money cannot buy the deep love and passion we feel for the freedom guaranteed by our Constitution.”
It is therefore about equality, but as Trahan shows, it is also about freedom. Our freedom; the freedom of every American. When only the richest individuals, the largest corporations, or the most powerful unions or special interests are free, no one is free.
Freedom and equality. Too often we think that these are opposed to each other. But freedom is our freedom, or it is not freedom. Freedom is not the same as individualism; instead, freedom stems from our equality as citizens and human beings in society, together.
If we are equal in the eyes of our Creator and our Constitution, our own freedoms must be reciprocal and related to one another. Freedom exists when citizens, who all have the same rights as everyone else, can debate, argue and compete, over time, election after election, decision after decision, in the different perspectives of what makes sound laws and standards. healthy in our society.
Unlike the judges, Collins learned this lesson in Caribou, Maine, his birthplace near the Canadian border, and over a long career in competitive politics and debate.
She and all New Englanders have enjoyed nearly four centuries of local democracy in city council, where all citizens of the community have the right to debate and decide together budgets and priorities; crime and security, environmental, zoning and commercial regulations; and all the rest.
Collins once pointed to this experience to explain everything you need to know about the First Amendment and money in politics. “Attend a town hall meeting,” she says, “and you will observe an element of true democracy: people who have more money don’t speak longer and louder than people who have less money.
The constitutional amendment favored by Trahan and so many Americans is progressing rapidly, with 22 states so far calling on Congress to act, and versions of amendment language vying in Congress to hit the two-thirds threshold. Legal experts, business and civic leaders, healthcare and religious leaders join the campaign. And a non-partisan and diverse panel of experts assembled by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has endorsed the American Promise effort and called for ratification of this constitutional amendment no later than July 4, 2026.
July 4, 2026. What better way to honor America’s difficult, bumpy, and hectic 250-year journey to freedom, equality and constitutional democracy than by ratifying a For Our Freedom Amendment so that we can get out of the avalanche and renew our promise?
Jeff Clements is the president of American Promise, which advocates for constitutional change to allow more federal and state regulation of money in politics.