Sunday, April 6, 2014

Citizens United 2.0

Dear MoveOn member,

We usually send you emails telling you about some urgent thing happening in Congress and that if we do X, Y, Z we can get something done right away. This is not one of those emails.

You probably heard that the U.S. Supreme Court just struck down a law that's been on the books since Watergate and limited the total amount of money that super-rich donors can spread around to politicians around the country. Now, instead of being limited to giving about $50,000 per election, people like the Koch brothers can give millions.1

Sounds bad, right? Well, it's actually a lot worse than it sounds, because in the opinion, the 5-4 majority explicitly said that the only kind of campaign finance rules they'd allow are those dealing with explicit bribery.2 So unless it's a wad of cash in a paper bag that you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt was given in exchange for a vote, the Supreme Court says it's constitutionally protected free speech.

That means it's just a matter of time before Scalia, Thomas, and the rest throw out all of our campaign finance laws. We're talking about the Wild West—a system where rich people can give an unlimited amount of money to any politician, anywhere, anytime, and as long as they're not caught saying out loud that it's a bribe, it's 100% legal.

I'm not sure how to explain how dangerous and totally unprecedented this is. How can democracy possibly work under a system like that?

But you know what scares me even more? A lot of local newspapers buried the news about this decision on page A3. Our country is being sold to the highest bidder, and the media is barely talking about it.

It won't be easy to fix the damage they've done, but it's possible if we throw everything we have at it. Push legislation to blunt the impact of this decision. Work to elect a president who will replace the far-right majority on the Supreme Court with mainstream justices. Fight to pass a constitutional amendment saying that corporations aren't people and money is not speech.

This is a battle we need to fight on all fronts. Can you chip in $3 to help take our democracy back?

Yes, I'll donate $3 to help take back our democracy.

So here's the plan: First, we need to draw as much attention as possible to the decision. People know Washington is broken—but very few of them understand how the Supreme Court is making it worse.

We teamed up with our allies at Public Citizen to organize rapid-response protests around the country, and over the coming weeks we're planning a series of top-secret actions that will grab the media's attention and build support for legislation to blunt the impact and a constitutional amendment to state once and for all that money isn't speech.

Then, this fall, we'll fight tooth and nail to make sure Republicans don't take control of the Senate, so that President Obama can get a decent judge confirmed when the time comes. Since this was 5-4, we need to flip only one vote to fix this decision, and two of the judges in the majority are nearly 80 years old.

After Citizens United, it seemed like the Supreme Court couldn't go any further to drown our democracy in money. Now we know they were just getting started.

The system they're creating is so blatantly corrupt, so imbalanced to the super-rich, that we might not have much time to save our democracy from being completely flushed, and the longer we live under this new era of unlimited money in politics, the harder it'll be to overturn. So we need to get started now. Can you chip in $3?

Yes, I'll donate $3 to help take back our democracy.

Thanks for all you do,

Ilya, David, Justin, Maria, and the rest of the team 


1. "What McCutcheon Means—in 1 infographic," The Washington Post, April 2, 2014

2. "Originalists Making It Up Again: McCutcheon and 'Corruption'," The Daily Beast, April 2, 2014

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