John Mahon, Contributing Writer
Did you know that the Supreme Court just reduced your voices and the voice of millions of other students in our democracy? They have opened the floodgates to wealthy donors’ money, allowing millions of dollars from a single person to buy our politicians.
On April 2, in a case called McCutcheon vs FEC, the Court overturned a 40-year-long limit on how much aggregate money an individual could contribute in an election cycle. This means that a wealthy individual can now pour as much money as they want directly into an election. They can give money to as many members of Congress, national and state parties and as many political action committees as they wish.
Our elections are being turned into auctions, with candidates being bought by the small number of millionaires and billionaires who can give the most money.
But it’s our democracy. Our politicians are supposed to be accountable to all the voters. They are not supposed to be influenced by a tiny group of contributors who account for less than one percent of Americans.
If you care about anything at all: student loans and funding for colleges and universities, global climate change, America’s growing economic inequality, whether the economy continues to struggle, whether you will have a job when you graduate, where and when we go to war. If you care about laws protecting civil rights, the right to vote, food safety or whether your grandparents can collect social security. If you do care, then you need to also care about who is making our laws and who they are listening to. Yes, you need to get involved in politics.
There is hope. Some members of Congress also believe that democracy itself is threatened by the avalanche of big money that will hit as early as this November’s elections. And they are doing something about it. In the House of Representatives they have introduced a “Government By the People Act” and in the Senate the “Fair Elections Now Act.” Both of these bills would lessen the impact of big money in politics.
As students, we should support those and other efforts to save our democracy from becoming a plutocracy where only the 1% count and the 99% (that’s us) are silenced. What you can do to help is contact your local representatives and senators. It is important to focus on legalization on both the state level and the federal level. A few states have already enacted some systems of campaign finance reform and with each state or city that adds a program it gives a sign to the federal government that this is a policy we want and need to change.
This policy affects every one of us in one way or another. To live in a true democracy or republic we have to have some sense of accountability for our politicians. These reformations can help money get out and stay out of our political system.
This is our democracy. Let’s take it back.