The 2016 Republican platform released on Monday takes direct aim at some of the few money in politics protections our democracy has left. The platform advocates raising or eliminating contribution limits, opposes increased disclosure, and generally functions as a ringing endorsement of disastrous decisions like Citizens United.
That the GOP platform was released during the same week Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE pledged she would take decisive action on money in politics reform within her first 30 days as president provides a stark reminder of the choice voters are facing this November. At the ballot box, voters will weigh in on the kind of country they want to live in: a democracy for the wealthy and privileged, or a democracy for all of us.
On one side of the 2016 election, we have a party with a platform that the New York Times calls the “most extreme Republican platform in memory.” While few Americans would argue that big donors have too little influence on our politics, the GOP platform effectively calls for giving increased political power to wealthy special interests in the name of “free speech.”
But their version of “free speech” involves handing a megaphone to the rich and powerful and allowing them to drown out the voices of everyone else. The platform supports repealing contribution limits and opposes increased transparency. In essence, it envisions a playing field in which corporations and billionaires can tilt our out-of-balance system even further in their own favor, while keeping everyday Americans in the dark about much of that political spending.
Given that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE, the GOP standard bearer, spent the primary season railing against our big money system and accusing others of being “puppets” of wealthy donors, this platform — along with Trump’s active courting of big-dollar donors — further cements just how empty his rhetoric has been all along.
On the other side, we have a presidential candidate who is pledging to act on money in politics reform from her very first month. In a video released this weekend, Hillary Clinton said she intends to keep money in politics reform “at the top of the national agenda.”
Clinton committed, if elected, to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United within the first 30 days of her presidency, to nominate Supreme Court justices who understand that the decision “was a disaster for our democracy,” and to advocate for small donor empowerment measures and increased disclosure of political spending — policy priorities reflected in the draft Democratic platform.
While many politicians talk about how they are committed to this issue, Hillary Clinton has laid out howand when she will take action towards fixing our broken campaign finance system.
This is exactly what Americans of all political backgrounds want. As others have noted, the GOP platform does not come close to representing the views of Republican voters on money in politics. In fact, polling shows that GOP voters want to see increased public disclosure, that they oppose the Citizens United decision, and that they support common-sense limitson political spending.
Just like progressives, Republican voters are ready for an overhaul of our campaign finance system. When four in ten Americans say our money in politics system needs “fundamental changes” and nearly half say we need to “completely rebuild” it, the message is clear: Americans of all political stripes are in agreement about the need for serious reform.
Those who care about creating a democracy where every voice can be heard, not just the voices of those with deep pockets, have a clear choice this November. We can support a party whose platform essentially says Citizens United didn’t go far enough and whose presidential candidate uses our broken system as more of an applause line than an action item.
Or we can vote for a candidate who has pledged to take action from her first month to help get big money out of politics, and who has committed to keeping democracy issues front and center.
For me, the choice is clear.
Baker is the executive vice president of People For the American Way.
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.