Senator Josh Hawley recently introduced legislation to reverse the controversial Citizens United decision and stop corporate campaign funding. While many Americans agree that money is the root of evil when it comes to politics, few are convinced that we could really separate them.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
A Little Context
Senator Hawley’s proposed legislation is meant to punish corporations that push progressive politics, which he dislikes. But he’s not the first politician to call for an end to Citizens United.
Sanders Did It First
In 2015, Bernie Sanders also attempted to overturn the Supreme Court decision, warning that “democracy is under attack” by secret corporate campaign spending.
It seems this is a rare area where there’s some overlap between the progressive left and far right. Many Americans are all for limiting or completely ending the corporate funding of politicians. The question is whether that’s feasible.
End Citizens United
Some thought that ending Citizens United, which allows corporations unlimited spending to influence elections, would be enough. “End Citizens United. Period,” one commenter wrote.
Others weren’t so sure that the Citizens United decision was the real root of the problem. “Money ruled politics before Citizens United and will continue to do so afterward,” one person pointed out. “It’s an important step, but it is far from all that’s required.”
Another person suggested a “massive boycott of corporations that contribute [to campaigns] for political influence.” But that led to another question.
On Your Sleeves
How are everyday Americans supposed to keep track of which corporations fund politicians? One person thought we should make politicians “wear suits like NASCAR drivers that are covered in their donors logos.”
Not a Bad Idea
Though meant in humor, many agreed with the idea that politicians should have to display their donor affiliations in some way. “I don’t believe reform is possible, but we can put transparency into the system,” one person explained.
Others thought we could reform the election system by getting rid of privately funded campaigns. Use “federally funded campaign finance,” one person said. “No private money. Equal airtime for candidates to explain their platform.”
A Few Suggestions
Another person gave a list of suggestions to limit corporate influence. “Eliminate campaign donations from corporations. All politicians and their family must enter their investments into a blind trust. Restrictions on lobbying and consulting for five years post-term. Enact term limits,” they said.
Many agreed that creating limits to money in politics was the only viable solution. “As long as politics impacts business, lobbyists will find a way to inject money into the system. We can limit it and force it into the sunlight, but there is no getting rid of it altogether,” one person explained.
Pie in the Sky
Others thought that even limits were a pie-in-the-sky idea. As one person said, “It’s likely too late. The damage is done. It’s kinda like having been stabbed & the victim asks, ‘How do I keep from bleeding?'”
No Way, No How
“We can’t democratically,” another person agreed. “Everyone in D.C. is madly profiting from this on a personal level. I see no scenario in which they would stop this.”
“End capitalism. Even if you miraculously got a total ban of money in politics, capitalists still own your economy and will use it as a hostage to get their way,” one person thought. But several others pushed back.
Capitalism Isn’t the Problem
“You will still have money in politics under socialism,” one person pointed out. “A business collectively owned by its employees is still going to favor politicians who cater to it.”
“How about getting politicians out of politics,” another person suggested. “It would be better to fill seats in government like jury duty. Just normal tax-paying citizens would do better.”
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