The story of our American democracy has been the fight to make sure that every citizen’s voice is heard; that each of us can claim equal ownership of the government we’ve formed together. But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has threatened that fundamental notion by allowing secretive special interests to make limitless and secret campaign donations, secret donations then give them an unfair advantage over the average voter.
In his dissenting opinion to the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, now-retired Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”
More than 300 women, a record high, have filed to run for Congress this year, which means a likely gain of female members come November. In addition to greater parity for women--who’ve been chronically underrepresented--more women in Congress could bring another benefit: Less gridlock.
Female senators have a markedly more bipartisan vote record than their male peers do. Moreover, studies in personality research find that women are more cooperative than men, more willing to compromise, more empathetic and, moreover, more polite.
One hundred years ago, the people of Montana raised their voices and voted to close the door on corporate money in politics. On Monday, without even hearing arguments, the Supreme Court kicked the door open, allowing corporate dollars to flood the Treasure State's elections. Lost between the rulings on Arizona’s immigration law and the Affordable Care Act is the most dangerous threat to our democratic process since the Citizens United v. FEC case of 2010 – and few people seem to have noticed.
Another tremor of reform rattled a few political windows in California last week. Whether that portends a full scale quake and the collapse of the fortress the two political parties have erected to keep out invaders remains to be seen.
With last Tuesday’s test of the new open primary system – where all candidates appeared on a single ballot and the top two vote-getters from each district advanced to the general election regardless of party affiliation – California has taken another small step towards more political choice for voters and more accountability and competition for our politicians.
If the Supreme Court chooses to play politics and strikes down the Affordable Care Act, more than just its reputation will be at stake. Many of the commonsense health insurance reforms that Americans have waited to see for more than a century will be lost — including new rules making insurance transparent and accountable.
Unprecedented obstruction in the U.S. Senate remains the largest factor in our inability to overcome the influence of corporate money in politics. It is impossible for progressive legislation to proceed if Republicans are able to harness Senate rules to do the bidding of corporate America. Thankfully, several recent developments have drawn attention to Republican obstructionism at the behest of extreme ideological interests. For all of these reasons, it is again time to take up the cause of rules reform in the U.S. Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) infamously declared that his “single most important” goal was to make President Obama a “one-term president.” His playbook from the start of the Obama Administration was simple – to convince his caucus to obstruct anything and everything. As a result, 60 votes became the needed threshold for nearly every order of Senate business. And the Senate Republicans bullied our democracy with the 60 vote club. They derailed energy and climate legislation, halted the DREAM Act, which passed the House while receiving 55 votes in the Senate, and blocked any debate on the Employee Free Choice Act, which passed the House with an overwhelming majority and garnered 59 votes in the Senate. Senator McConnell succeeded beyond belief in stopping our democracy from governing. In fact, never before in American history had the U.S. Senate seen such levels of obstruction.
As The Hill reported Wednesday, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain appears to be back in the game on campaign finance reform, and he couldn’t have come at a better time.
McCain, who thought he had tamped down the issue with his landmark 2002 law banning soft money, is talking with several Democrats, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the author of the latest bill aimed at SuperPAC transparency. His presence in this important conversation will hopefully help shed more light on the increasingly important issue of public access to information on SuperPAC donors. As a respected member of Congress, McCain’s presence will also increase the activity of lobbyists who are already keeping close tabs on SuperPAC transparency legislation circulating both chambers.
The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission—a ruling that completely changed the political influence landscape going forward. Allowing organizations to give unlimited amounts of money to Political Action Committees (PACs)—ultimately helping a candidate into office—feels a lot like secret influence peddling which is something that we can all agree is not a good thing.
When Mitt Romney stopped in Virginia last week he said, “This may well be the state [that] decides who the next president is.”
At least he understands the stakes.
Barring a collapse by either Romney or President Obama, the popular vote will be close. Major polls are all within the margin of error and likely to stay that way. Romney supporters know they face an uphill battle to unseat an incumbent president. And, now that the primary season is over and Romney has emerged as the nominee, Democrats have begun to heed the call of former Clinton campaign aide James Carville to “wake the you-know-what up.”
But it’s not about the popular vote. It’s about the Electoral College – and there, President Obama has a decided advantage right now. Chris Cillizza, author of The Fix blog in The Washington Post, sees no way Romney can exceed 290 electoral votes. He sees a rough, but doable path for President Obama to win nearly 310.
In the presidential race, attention has turned to what we erroneously call the "general election." The problem is that there is nothing "general" about it. From Louisiana to Alaska, from California to the New York Island, 80% of Americans now live in states where no presidential competition will take place because statewide results are a foregone conclusion.
The number of swing states has sharply declined as the states polarize just like our gerrymandered congressional districts. Even a state expected to be in play can be sidelined overnight, as in 2008 when John McCain redeployed all his staff and resources out of Michigan a few weeks before the November election, leaving devastated local backers in his wake.
This year neither party will invest resources fighting for three of our four largest states-bright-red Texas and deep-blue California and New York. Of the 15 smallest states, 14 are safe for one party and therefore political fly-over country too-states like blue Vermont, Rhode Island and Delaware and red Idaho, West Virginia and Wyoming.