If two dozen billionaires were using their wealth to effectively buy the 2012 election, it would be time for patriots to mount a bold response on behalf of democracy itself.
Well, that time has come.
US Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, revealed for the first time in Senate testimony Tuesday that at least 23 billionaire families have contributed a minimum of $250,000 each so far in this year's campaigns.
"My guess is that number is really much greater because many of these contributions are made in secret. In other words, not content to own our economy, the 1 percent want to own our government as well," Sanders told the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
The subcommittee's "Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs" hearing provided an important point of reflection on the crisis created in the 2012 election cycle by what the progressive reformers of a century ago described broadly -- and accurately -- as "the money power." In addition to Sanders, testimony was provided by other backers of amending the Constitution to overturn recent US Supreme Court decisions that have eliminated barriers to the dominance of elections by corporations and the wealthy, including Congresswoman Donna Edwards, D-Maryland, and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.
The sense of urgency regarding money in politics was heightened Tuesday as petitions signed by 1,959,063 Americans who want Congress to act to "restore the democratic promise of America" were delivered by a broad consortium of groups that favor a constitutional amendment.