Let’s get big money out of politics

by David Turnoy

Special to the Sounder

Billions of dollars in campaign donations are destroying our democracy.  Donald Trump proudly admits donating to both major parties so that when he wants a favor, all he has to do is pick up the phone.  The Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010 and its progeny have opened up the floodgates to unlimited political contributions by big corporations and billionaires.  What can we do?

We need the law to declare that money is not speech, that corporations are not people, that all political contributions must be publicly disclosed and that our federal, state and local governments have the right and ability to regulate political spending.  This will enable us to go back to a system where only individuals, not corporations, can donate to campaigns, and those contributions will be limited by the particular government involved to an amount that does not corrupt our political system.

To overturn a Supreme Court decision requires a Constitutional Amendment, which must have the approval of 38 states.

We already have 16 states that have passed language that would overturn Citizens United; we need 22 more. Here in the state of Washington, our legislature has not been cooperative on this issue, so if we want to become state number 17, we have to get an initiative on the state ballot for a vote of the people.  But to get on the ballot requires 250,000 signatures on petitions.

Volunteer signature gatherers have been working very hard since April 25 to make this happen. We now have over 165,000 signatures statewide, but we need many more by the end of the calendar year. If ever you were thinking of getting involved in a campaign that would make a huge difference to improve our democracy, this is the time.  We can’t accomplish this without more volunteers.  A great place to gather signatures is at the ferry landing on your island.  You can also gather signatures outside stores (with their permission, preferably) or the Post Office. Or you can simply take a petition to have your friends sign.

If you are willing to help us in this noble cause, please contact one of the following:

San Juan Island: Shireene Hale, 298-2465      shireeneh@yahoo.com

Lopez Island: Mac Langford , 468-4015, tyttil@rockisland.com

Orcas Island: David Turnoy, 376-4165, davidgeri@centurylink.net.

This is your chance to show that people power can take back our democracy.  We all want to leave a better country to our children; this is our opportunity to make it happen.