Vail Daily letter: End the money game
Election season just ended. And election season is once again upon us.
2016 is a big one. Besides selecting a president there are a plethora of national, state and local races.
Most of us are eager for change to a political and electoral system more representative and inclusive of all of us, not just the wealthiest 1 percent. There is an indisputable ground swell of public support for this needed change.
You can criticize the United States as much as you want but the fact remains: We are a country of hardworking citizens; we work harder and longer than practically any other industrialized country. Americans polled repeatedly ask for a level playing field and rank it highest among priorities. All we want is a chance. Not a handout, just an opportunity.
Unfortunately, no matter your political affiliation, this populist message faces an uphill battle against the money game. Since Citizens United ruling in 2010, the rules of the game have changed. A candidate’s qualifications, sadly, rarely matter anymore.
What matters most now is not how your vote can be earned. Only how it can be influenced. The wealthiest 1 percent control the electoral system. Period.
The Brennan Center for Justice conducted an analysis in 2015 of the effects of the Citizens United ruling: Since 2010, in 80 percent of competitive US Senate races, outside spenders (aka dark or special interest money) outspent the candidates, often doubling what the candidates spent. The study also shows since the 2010 ruling, over $600 million was raised by just 195 individuals and their spouses to fund PACs.
But it is still “one citizen, one vote,” right?
To break this cycle of invasiveness, we need to choose our candidates based solely on their merits. Let’s focus on the candidate who looks us into our eyes when he or she talks to us. Let’s focus on the candidates who have the right message, the ones who share our vision for a better country for all of us.
Let’s choose the ones who will end the money game that allows the 1 percent to control our country. The ones who put what is right for us ahead of what is right for themselves. Serving our country was intended by our forefathers to be a sacrifice, not a vehicle for personal gain. Altruistic? Yes, but that’s what our constitutional authors wanted.
Politics turns most of us off. It shouldn’t. If democracy is a principle worth fighting for, then so is a political system that truly represents us.
Stand up and fight. Tell the money game that we don’t want to play anymore. “One citizen, one vote” should matter. It is up to us to make it matter.