For almost a century, corporate finance laws limited monetary contributions toward political campaigns from corporations and labor unions.
Well, not anymore.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week overturned most restrictions on campaign contributions, allowing corporations, labor unions and others to spend as much as they want on political contributions.
This decision grants big businesses and other special interest groups the power to pull strings and advance’political agendas. In a democracy, political leaders should represent the peoples’ concerns, needs and general interests. But massive corporate funding may prevent this, making politicians more susceptible to the demands of their sponsors.
Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee, said in a statement: ‘Giving corporate interests an outsized role in our process will only mean that citizens’ voices will get heard less. We must look for legislative ways to make sure that ledger is not tipped so far for corporate interests that citizens’ voices are’drowned out.’
Now, health insurance companies, major media corporations and oil companies have complete freedom to actively’campaign for or against a’candidate.
Politicians may align’themselves with corporate sponsors to gain their help while avoiding their wrath. Companies will have a greater say in areas such as health care, natural resources and macroeconomic finances – all crucial issues that the public should have a say in.
With unlimited campaigning, corporations can take the role of puppeteers, pulling the strings of politicians. Under these conditions, newly-elected officials will likely further the political aims of sponsors out of obligation, even under the pretext of ‘public service’ and ‘for the common good.’
The volume of political advertisements and rallies will likely go through the roof with the influx of massive funding.’With so much propaganda coming from commercials, how can a citizen make a well-informed, intelligent decision as to who should be’elected into office?’
There’s a silver lining, and many in Congress are taking action against the decision.
Sen. Russ Feingold said in a statement: ‘In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation restoring as many of the critical restraints on corporate control of our elections as’possible.’
Even President Barack Obama has spoken out against the decision.
‘With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,’ Obama said in a’statement. ‘It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful’interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of’everyday Americans.’
Some argue that corporations have a right to free speech, but it’s more imperative that politicians are able to keep the best interests of all U.S. citizens as their No. 1 priority.
A politician’s first and’foremost duty is to serve and represent the general public. If campaign contributions are limited to some extent, then the voices of special interest groups can be balanced with the voices of average citizens. The’relationship between political leaders, the public and businesses must be restored.
Margarita Abramova is a freshman majoring in mass’communications