— by Sen. Bernie Sanders
When I read the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision, I had to ask myself a question: What democracy is Chief Justice John Roberts living in? Because it doesn’t look anything like ours.
In McCutcheon, just like in Citizens United, the Roberts majority of the Supreme Court essentially legalized corruption, first by corporations and now by super-wealthy individual donors. So, in John Roberts’ democracy, corporations are supposed to have the same rights as people and more influence on our government. And when a billionaire spends thousands of dollars on every Congressional race in the country, they’re not looking for anything in return, they’re just speaking their mind.
It’s absurd. When my friend Russ Feingold joined with John McCain and passed campaign-finance reform, they did it because huge, unlimited checks were corrupting our government. There was proof, and the Supreme Court agreed: When corporations call all the shots, that’s not democracy, that’s corruption. That’s allowing the billionaire class to buy elections.
But that was then. Today’s conservative court, in 5-4 votes, embraces corruption. That has to stop or this country will rapidly evolve into an oligarchic form of society where virtually all power rests in a handful of wealthy hands.
This matters to our middle class. The more corporate money is allowed to corrupt our government, the more elected officials are beholden to the rich and the powerful, the harder it becomes to win fights for working Americans. Corruption affects everything. Corruption makes it harder to pass an increase in the minimum wage, to expand Social Security benefits, to reverse climate change and to block the horrible trade deals that send jobs overseas. Corruption means letting Wall Street run wild.
So it’s important to talk about what specific contribution limits should be, or how much any one person should give, and how we keep corporate interests like the Koch brothers from pouring hundreds of millions into our elections. But before we do, we have to make sure the Supreme Court understands the most fundamental reason why we fight: saving our democracy from corruption.
I’m partnering with my friends at Progressives United, who have been on the front line of this fight, to tell the Supreme Court that corporate influence isn’t part of American democracy. It’s corruption. Please, join me today and tell the Supreme Court that we cannot allow the billionaire class to buy our elections!