America is experiencing a rare and dramatic moment of grassroots advocacy for fundamental reform of our elections.
Unfortunately, the political and media elites that define our discourse are doing their best to ignore it.
So it remains in America as it has ever been; Thomas Jefferson was indeed right when he told George Mason, “More attention should be paid to the general opinion.”
And the general opinion is that the money power, which has come to dominate our politics, must be checked and balanced.
With little in the way of financial resources and frequently dismissed even by pundits and politicians who claim to respect its goals, this movement to amend the Constitution to address the crisis of money in politics has secured official endorsements from thirteen states and close to 500 counties, cities, villages and towns nationwide. And when the boldest proposals of the movement to overturn the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC are placed on the ballot, they win by overwhelming margins.
That was confirmed again Tuesday by the voters of the nation’s second-largest city. Los Angeles electors were asked: “Shall the voters adopt a resolution that there should be limits on political campaign spending and that corporations should not have the constitutional rights of human beings and instruct Los Angeles elected officials and area legislative representatives to promote that policy through amendments to the United States Constitution?”
The Los Angeles Times, arguably the dominant media outlet in the community, actively opposed the measure, “Proposition C,” with editorials and signed opinion pieces ripping it as “a primal scream about the role of money in politics.”
The voters decided to scream. As loudly as they could.
Seventy-seven percent of them voted “yes”; just 23 percent voted “no.”
That’s a reasonably typical result—similar to the levels of support seen in Colorado and Montana when the those states weighed in on the issue last fall.