Citizen’s United Four Years Later
On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States heard a case brought by a conservative lobbying group known as Citizens United. The group had produced a film critical of then Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton and wanted to advertise its DirectTV release on television. Lower courts ruled that airing the commercials would have been a violation of the McCain-Feingold Act.
The resulting 5-4 ruling of the Supreme Court greatly increased the power of both big business and labor unions to spend billions to advance their agendas and try to influence voters in presidential and Congressional elections. The court felt that some parts of McCain-Feingold violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.
This ruling had no effect on current campaign laws that prohibit corporations or unions to make campaign contributions directly to candidate campaigns or political parties for federal office races.
Is Your Candidates Vote For Sale?
What exactly does Citizen’s United mean to you as a voter? Since no corporation or union can contribute directly to a political candidate or party how exactly can they be in the pocket of a union or corporation?
Corporations and unions donate to PAC’s (Political Action Committees) who can campaign for specific laws or special interests like the XL Keystone Pipeline, voter ID laws, immigration reform, and tax reform just to name a few.
Voters who see these “cause” related ads often take them at face value without checking the sources or who funded the ad and what their political special interest agenda might be.
If your candidate’s vote is for sale for direct or indirect campaign donations then I would suggest that you consider a different candidate because money, not what’s best for the country, would be at the top of his or her agenda.
Is Your Vote For Sale?
If you are a single-issue voter then for the good of all of us please stay home. Candidates will be faced with a multitude of issues during their term of office. Putting all your eggs in one special interest basket is not the wisest use of your vote.
I have never voted a straight party ticket, and especially not in Montana. Due to our low population we have many RINO’s (Republican In Name Only) and DINO’s (Democrat On Name Only) who run for office in our state. These lower level candidates at the state and local level are not under the stricter national campaign rules. Outside money flows into states like ours because there is the perception that it’s more economical to buy an federal election in a less populous state.
Some Final Thoughts
Money can only influence the uninformed and therein lies the danger. I can put out a campaign ad that says a candidate voted against a certain bill and you might like that bill. But the legislator might have voted against the bill because it was packed with pork and was unaffordable. He or she had no choice but to vote against it.
In a state like Montana our state and locally elected leaders are very accessible to the public. So attend their rallies and public appearances. Ask them specific questions and don’t accept vague or generic answers.
Who governs us, and the job they do or don’t do, falls directly on us — the voters. No court ruling can take that important decision away from you. Be an informed voter and no amount of money can buy your vote.