“In a 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations and the wealthy to spend unlimited and undisclosed money to buy our elected officials.”
On its face, this sounds just awful—an exclusive democracy for only those who can afford it, all the while not disclosing who is paying for it. This could be the case in American politics, however, the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling (Citizens United) is not the cause of it. To believe otherwise is to give the real culprits a pass. Lack of transparency in federal elections is the fault of Congress and the Republican Party who currently control it. In this article I will highlight how Citizens United is good for transparency in elections. Continue reading Bernie Sanders is Wrong on Transparency in Elections.
Wendy Kaminer writes a good editorial in the June 8 Boston Globe regarding the Citizens United v. F.E.C. ruling. It is a good read. She points out that most of the big donors to campaigns are not corporations but wealthy individuals. Kaminer reminds us of the McCain-Feingold law, which parts were overturned by Citizens United, criminalized showing a documentary on pay-per-view television 30 days before an election. Many bemoan “Citizens United”, however, the ruling was good for freedom of speech—especially on the internet.
Imagine if a documentary about a candidate for public office was banned from YouTube during the election season? The SCOTUS majority that struck down this provision in McCain-Feingold was keen about the convergence of television and the internet. They said,
“Rapid changes in technology—and the creative dynamic inherent in the concept of free expression—counsel against upholding a law that restricts political speech in certain media or by certain speakers. . . . Today, 30-second television ads may be the most effective way to convey a political message. . . . Soon, however, it may be that Internet sources, such as blogs and social networking Web sites, will provide citizens with significant information about political candidates and issues. Yet, §441b would seem to ban a blog post expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate if that blog were created with corporate funds. The First Amendment does not permit Congress to make these categorical distinctions based on the corporate identity of the speaker and the content of the political speech.” (Opinion of the Court p 49.)
Kaminer is also correct when she states that those who disparage Citizens United could be manipulative, “[Turning] this complex ruling to a political symbol helps aspiring reformers raise funds and aspiring Democratic presidents organize support.”
The United States Open Source (OSP) party is in the process of developing our bylaws and other infrastructure. We are considering existing social networking tools for a collaborative interface with our public democratic process. I want to alert you to such a platform that has a lot of potential. NewGov is interesting as it asks users to pay a onetime nominal fee. This credit card transaction serves to place the user with respect to their political location. For example, by entering my zip code, the NewGov software places me in my State, US House district, state legislative districts, county etc.. What this does is to connect me with other residents of my various political jurisdictions.
This is important as we start to form the Open Source Party. As I wrote in my last post, the political system in the United States is decentralized. The federal OSP is basically an umbrella for local groups to become active in. NewGov could be a good organizing tool if we can figure out how to maximize it. What do you think?
Below is an editorial I wrote for NewGov about a year ago. I am posting it again as I believe the information is salient with what we are trying to do with the OSP. Continue reading Citizens Uniting