In response to the same problem, Montanans have already approved a ballot initiative calling for a U.S. constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United with a whopping 75 percent of the vote. That vote called for an amendment to make it clear that corporations do not have constitutional rights, which are only for people; to restore Congress’ and the states’ authority to ban corporate campaign gifts; and to level the playing field in campaign spending.
Many people associate the onslaught of Super PACs and dark money contributions from a tiny handful of billionaires with Republican strategists like Karl Rove and conservative donors like the Koch brothers and others. But there is a growing movement in states all across the country of Republicans standing in opposition to Citizens United and the steady erosion of the rights of citizens to enforce common sense regulations on campaign spending through a government that, last time I checked, is of, by, and for the people. All the people; not just a wealthy few. And not the corporations.
The 126 Republicans featured in the report include sitting federal legislators like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and prominent former officials such as former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). As important, the list features elected officials from 25 different states. With public approval of Congress at an all-time low of six percent, and consistent polling showing Americans want genuine political reform that emphasizes people over money in our politics, it is clear this movement will continue to grow.
Among the many Republicans quoted in the report, President Reagan’s Budget Director, David Stockman, is one of the most direct:
“Now we have an entitled class in this country that is far worse than, remember the ‘welfare queens’ that Ronald Reagan used to talk about? We now have an entitled class of Wall St. financiers and corporate CEOs who believe the government is there to do whatever it takes to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward. How do we solve it? I think we can only solve it by a Constitutional Amendment, so I don't say this lightly, but I think we have to eliminate all contributions above $100 and get corporations out of politics entirely. Ban corporations from campaign contributions or attempting to influence elections.”
Republicans should leap to the forefront of this movement and embrace a true conservatism, one that preserves, protects and defends our system of government, rather than undermining it by pretending money is speech and corporations are people. Frankly, we could use an issue that reminds people we’re on their side, not that of the special interests. There is nothing more important or more sacred to our constitutional form of government than our ability to protect the rights of individual citizens to participate freely in the selection of their representatives. It is time for more Republicans to stand and be counted in this critical fight for the Republic.
Bohlinger was Lieutenant Governor of Montana from 2005-2013.