The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

June 26, 2012

Our View: Citizens uninterested

Money — more than ideas, more than vision, more than community priorities — drives politics and politicians.

Always has. Always will.

Those who have money have a voice, and often the vote.

It may not seem fair. In fact, it isn’t fair. And it’s hard to imagine genuine reform on any key issue of the day, from health care to energy policy, when there are currently more checks than balances in the system.

How do we offset the influence of money in politics? Can we, especially when those with the money elect the politicians who make the rules and appoint the judges who approve them? Does campaign spending equal free speech? If so, then shouldn’t individuals, organized as corporations, labor unions or any other kind of group or association, have the same rights?

The issue surfaced again Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending. The court expanded its 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling by applying the same logic to state races, thus guaranteeing corporate and labor unions the right to spend freely to advocate for or against candidates for state and local offices.

A 1912 Montana law blocked direct corporate contributions to political parties and candidates. Missouri’s own Mark Twain wrote of one of those corporate donors more than a century ago: “He is said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment.”

In the last 100 years, thousands of laws have passed at the local, state and federal level aimed at limiting the influence of money in politics. They have, for the most part, been ineffective, or, as the Supreme Court ruled Monday, unconstitutional.

The antidote, however, is not legislative.

As long as residents remain indifferent to the fate of their communities, or their nation, money will rule the day.

Turnouts in the single digits are common at the local level. In the April election, when area residents were picking city council and school board members and deciding the fate of a plan to rebuild Joplin schools, turnout was less than 13 percent, meaning nearly nine out of 10 voting-age Joplinites thought these matters were unimportant.

According to polls, about a third of Americans can’t name their governor, the vice president or their Congressman. Barely half the nation’s eligible voters turn out to pick a president.

The problem isn’t Citizens United, it’s Citizens uninterested.

1
Text Only
Opinion
Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Sports