Yesterday, Republican and Democratic state representatives in New Hampshire came together to pass a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of our elections and overturn Citizens United. Since the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations have a First Amendment right to unlimited political spending, states all across the country have begun the process to put democracy back in the hands of the people.
During the first post-Citizens United presidential election, the American people were able to see just how distorted and outsized corporate and plutocratic influence has become in our democracy. Citizens United and related cases led to the rise of super PACs, limitless election spending, and “dark money” groups that are not required to disclose their donors. In the 2012 federal election cycle, super PACs received over $100 million from corporations. The top 32 super PAC donors, contributing an average of nearly $10 million each, matched the amount of the money that President Obama and Mitt Romney raised from small donors combined.
The bipartisan passage of HCR 2 in New Hampshire shows that ensuring our elections remain free from outside and outsized influence is not a Democratic value or a Republican value; it’s an American value. This is an issue that cuts across party lines and speaks to the core of our democratic principles. Fully 83% of Americans (85% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 78% of independents) support limits on how much money corporations can spend in elections.
Unprecedented public support for meaningful reform has already led to substantial progress in states all across the country, and a mounting public movement demanding a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and restore our democracy has emerged. Over 400 cities and towns, as well as 11 states, have called on Congress to send the states an amendment proposal that would overturn the disastrous decision. Last month, PFAW and ally organizations re-launched the “Declaration For Democracy” campaign, which helps identify and amplify the voices of public officials who support amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases. Already, over 100 members of Congress have joined the cause in support of a constitutional amendment.
The New Hampshire bill now moves to the Senate side of General Court, where legislators will decide whether democracy is still for the people. Let’s make sure they again put democratic principles above party politics.