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LETTERS / Call Your Elected Representatives To Get Money Out Of Politics

Dear Editor,

We in the United States have long prided ourselves on having a government of the people, by the people, and for the people — one person, one vote. We now find ourselves as a country at a great turning point where our government is quickly transforming into one ofby, and for the the extremely wealthy and their corporations. One dollar, one vote is replacing one person, one vote.

What is the cause? 

The Supreme Court delivered a one-two punch to our democracy in the last five years, opening a floodgate of money into our political system. 

Here’s what happened:  

  • The first punch was Citizens United vs. FEC in 2010. The Court ruled that limiting political contributions by corporations was the same as limiting their speech. This decision removed spending limits, and corporations are now allowed to spend as much money as they want to influence elections.   
  • The second punch was last year, McCutcheon vs. FEC.  Prior to this case, individuals were limited to contributing $123,200 per election cycle. That limit was already so high that it only restricted 646 of the wealthiest donors in the entire country in the 2012 election, but the Supreme Court struck down the limit on contributions under the premise that limiting money was the same as limiting speech.  Extremely wealthy individuals may now contribute as much money as they want to influence elections. 

There is an old saying that he who pays the fiddler calls the tunes. The ultra-rich and their corporations are paying the fiddler by pouring money into our political system. To use a high profile example, the Koch brothers, worth about $100 billion, have already pledged to spend $889 million to influence the 2016 elections. To put this into perspective, the Kochs have pledged more to influence the 2016 elections than the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee TOGETHER spent in the 2012 election.

What tunes do the Kochs want played?  They want laws repealed or enacted that will increase their wealth. Two examples:

  • Many of Koch Industries’ holdings pollute, and it is cheaper to pollute than to clean up. They want government environmental regulations repealed that require them to clean up their pollution — even though the majority of us want and appreciate clean air and clean water. 
  • The Kochs see solar and wind energy as direct competition to their oil, coal and natural gas businesses. They want government to set up legal barriers to home and business use of solar and wind energy — even though solar and wind can produce energy for homes and businesses with fewer costs than oil, coal, or natural gas. 

Do you see where this is heading? Good news for the Kochs and others with extreme wealth and their corporations, and bad news for the rest of us.  Is it any surprise that the approval rating of government is at an all-time low when so much of it appears to be for sale to the highest bidder?

We need to take back our democracy. What can you do? Call your elected representatives to get money out of politics.  Representative Virginia Foxx’s Boone office number is (828) 265-0240.  Senator Thom Tillis’s Charlotte office number is (704) 334-2448, and Senator Richard Burr’s Winston-Salem office number is (800) 685-8916.  Working together, we can reclaim our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  

High Country Campaign Finance Reform:  Paula Finck, David Finck, Joan Brannon