This week, the U.S. Senate will vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and other U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance-related decisions.

Here's one take on the vote: This proposed amendment to the Constitution is an assault on our right to free speech and would be the first time our Constitution has been altered to repeal part of the First Amendment. It would allow the government to decide what we are allowed to say and how we are allowed to spend our own money, and that's wrong.


Here's a very different take: Our democracy is supposed be of, by and for the people, and we're all supposed to have an equal say over the decisions that affect our lives. But when billionaires and corporations can spend unlimited money in politics, their voices count more than those of the people whom our elected officials are supposed to represent. This amendment puts us back in charge.

By an overwhelming margin, the American people agree with the second view. A new poll commissioned by Public Citizen and conducted by Lake Research Partners, a Democratic polling firm, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a Republican polling firm, finds that voters take the pro-amendment position by a 61 to 28 percent margin. Presented with these arguments for and against an amendment, Republicans strongly favor the amendment — by a 54 to 36 percent margin.

From one perspective, there should be nothing surprising about these overwhelming numbers. Americans understand elections to be deeply corrupted by corporate and super-rich spending, despise the outside group-sponsored negative ads blanketing the airwaves in states with closely contested races, and are desperate for far-reaching solutions.

The Lake Research/Chesapeake Beach poll found that voters hold an unfavorable view of spending in elections by special interests and lobbyists by an astounding six to one margin. This opposition is roughly equal among Republicans, Democrats and independents. By the same six to one margin, voters say that reducing the influence of money in politics is an important issue.

But while disgust with the current campaign funding system, outrage at Citizens United and other decisions, and passionate support for fundamental reform are widely held views — to understand how mind-boggling are these levels of demand for reform, consider that only three-quarters of Americans believe the earth revolves around the sun — the message hasn't penetrated in Washington, D.C.

While all but a few lagging Senate Democrats have declared their support for the constitutional amendment, no Republicans are currently on board.

Maybe Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Democrats step up pressure over witnesses after Bolton bombshell Bolton book alleges Trump tied Ukraine aid freeze to Biden investigations: NYT MORE (R-Ky.) really does believe that unlimited campaign spending is a fundamental constitutional right that should not be limited for any reason, or balanced against any other interests. (Though note that, in 2012, only about 600 people had hit the maximum aggregate contribution to candidates, parties and political committees, $123,000, that was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision.)

Or maybe McConnell — who himself once supported a constitutional amendment to curb campaign spending; yes, this is true — sees that the current system benefits him. Maybe we gained the best insight into his opposition to a constitutional amendment, or any other campaign spending reform, from the recently leaked recording in which he gushed to David Koch, "I don't know where we would be without you."

Indeed, with the American people so strongly united in opposition to the corrupt status quo defended by McConnell, and so strongly supporting an amendment to restore our democracy, one needs to search for reasons why the McConnell-led Republicans are walking in lockstep against an amendment — as well as any reform measure.

It's very hard to conclude there's any reason other than that the beneficiaries of a campaign finance despised by the American public aim to preserve it because they believe it serves their own interests. That is, the major barrier to winning an amendment and other campaign finance reforms is the campaign finance system itself.

That has long been true. What is different now is the ever-escalating spending on elections; the extremism of the court's decisions and the public flat-out rejection of their rationale; the fury with outside group advertisements polluting our airwaves and defining election narratives; the profound disgust with politics and politicians; and the growing intensity of the demand for fundamental change. The message from the American people is clear: Overturn Citizens United and restore our democracy. The constitutional amendment is not likely to pass by the required two-thirds majority this year, but the day is not long off when it will. The numbers are too strong even for Mitch McConnell to resist for long.

Weissman is president of Public Citizen.