The election of Barak Obama in 2008 proved that many people were eager for the Federal government to take a new approach. And because Obama’s victory occurred at the same moment as the worst economic crisis since the days of the Great Depression, the economic divide in America was at the forefront of discussions. People were losing jobs, money, houses, businesses, and they were frightened.
Fast forward two years and things were improving but not fast enough. People were still at financial institutions in this country, and half saw the new President as part of the problem, and half saw him as a savior.
Framed by the context of a divided electorate came the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C. The decision gave legal support to the concept that corporations have the same rights as individual people.
The wealthy were now free to donate any amount of money to their preferred candidates and remain in the shadows. They did not have to account for anything. Money could come from anywhere, virtually untraceable and without limit.
Opponents of the decision argued that billionaires and special interests could band together and buy elections, a practice once viewed as corrupt. Arguably, these monied groups now had the power to tip decisions in their favor and theoretically, could effect a legislative outcome. Fast forward once again to 2015, and the opponents of the big money agenda go on the offensive.
March 2015 is when the Citizens United opponents created the End Citizens United Political Action Committee. The committee is funded by grassroots donors and focuses on the task of providing a balance to Citizens United.
End Citizens United plans to employ tactics that include electing candidates that will work to overturn Citizens United, making money in politics a high priority as a national issue, and engaging in the education at the grass roots level.
Taking on a mission of this magnitude requires money. End Citizens United has been busy fundraising. According to Fredreka Schouten’s article published by USA TODAY on April 4, 2017, the organization collected over $4 million in the first three months this year. The group predicts the total money raised before the 2018 mid-terms to be around $35 million, which is a $10 million improvement over 2016.
About one-half of the 100,000 donors who gave during the first part of the year are first-timers, and most of the contributions were small. One could draw the conclusion that many in the electorate are against big money in politics. Stay tuned.