“Whatever Happened to We the People?”
2018 Tax Day Rally Talk
A speech by George Beck, Chair, Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections
I have a question today. My question is for the legislators who meet in our beautiful Capitol. My question is: “Whatever happened to “We the People?” Why do you fail to represent your constituents when it comes to money in politics?
We know that over 80% of Americans including Minnesotans, Republicans and Democrats alike, believe that the Citizens United decision abolishing contribution limits should be reversed. As Steven Brill has said, The First Amendment has become a tool for the wealthy to put a thumb on the scales of democracy.
And yet, our legislators have failed to even send a resolution to Congress asking that this disaster for democracy be corrected. Nineteen other states have done so, but not Minnesota. Do Minnesotans support unlimited money in political campaigns? No.
Even the Citizens United court made it clear that disclosure of contributions in this electronic age is constitutional and, in fact, a safeguard against allowing billions of dollars into our campaigns. Knowing who supports candidates financially is critical in deciding who to vote for, and in knowing if office holders are voting for contributors over constituents.
75% of Americans support disclosing the identity of donors. Legislators, why haven’t you required disclosure of dark money from phony quote “social welfare” non-profits that flood Minnesota with anonymous money in our elections? Do Minnesotans support secret contributions? No.
In Minnesota, independent committees can make electioneering communications, like TV ads, social media and mailings, without disclosing who paid for it, simply by careful wording of the content. Other states and the federal government prohibit this. We need to know if our legislators are representing their political party or their contributors instead of us. That is not a representative democracy. That is not government of the people, by the people and for the people. Is that how we want our government to function? Of course not!
84% of Americans believe that living in a democracy is important. But, 68% believe that our democracy is getting weaker and 50% believe that our country is in real danger of becoming nondemocratic and authoritarian. The Economist magazine recently downgraded the United States from a full democracy to a “flawed democracy.”
We need to reclaim our government from wealthy contributors who engage in what is currently, legal corruption, by buying the votes of our representatives. The so called, “Pay to Play”. We are onto you. Will we allow this to continue and our democracy to be weakened? No.
We the people are still in charge if we make our voices heard. We need to vote this fall for change and we need to make sure that the 2019 legislature addresses money in politics to end the abuses that are destroying our democracy.