I've gotten quite a few emails about these Daily Republic columns over the years and I really appreciate most of them. But many of you say that I'm being "too hard" on the Republicans, or that I'm "mean" to them. The truth is, I've been trying as hard as I can to help them become better citizens. I figure it's my civic duty, like when I yell helpful driving tips to inept motorists on the road. The only difference is, every time the Republicans bumble America into a ditch, the rest of us have to dig it out and pay for the damages.
But good citizenship involves more than just steering our nation down the correct path. I'm sure most of you virtuous citizens of Fairfield would agree with me that our elections should be fair and open and that the leadership of this great country should go to those individuals possessing the best ideas, not simply to politicians with the most money. What would America look like if only the rich had their voices heard or if politicians cared only about the wishes of the wealthy? We may soon find out. The Republicans keep trying to drive our nation off that rocky cliff.
In my September, 2011, column titled: "Speak now, or forever hold your piece," I wrote about the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling against the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. This decision gave corporations and billionaires the "freedom of speech" accorded by the power of unlimited political donations. In that article, I noted that the ruling seemed fair, because regular old everyday Fairfielders, like you and me, could also fund our favorite political causes with our millions of dollars too.
The conservative Citizens United Organization won the right to give an unlimited amount of money to political-action committees, but the ruling did not extend to cover individual politicians or political parties. Unfortunately, last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in another case that may change that and make American politics an even more exclusive, rich-man's club.
An Alabama businessman and the Republican National Committee have asked the Court to strike down restrictions on how much a person can contribute in each two-year election cycle, which is now limited to a total aggregate of $123,200. Fellow Fairfielders, if you ever wanted to give more than $123,200 to politicians or political parties every two years, this is your ticket.
If the Supreme Court agrees with the Republicans, you will be able to make your political voice heard loud and clear. If you don't have that kind of dough to toss around, well, your petty little problems couldn't possibly be that important anyway.
It will be a few months before we find out how the Supreme Court rules on this case, but if the past is any indication, we can expect champagne bubbles to flow in Republican circles, again. Also, expect that the law limiting the amount of money that one person can give to a politician, a measly $2,600 per election, will be soon be challenged by the Republicans too. These wins would complete the right-wing trifecta and totally eliminate 99.999% of us citizens from America's political conversations. And therein lies the rub. While the billionaires and their corporations cry to the Supreme Court that limiting political contributions limits their "freedom of speech," their massive donations, in fact, limits everybody else's ability to be heard over their roar.
It makes me want to roll down my truck window and yell: "Hey, you kids turn down that rap music. We're trying to have a conversation here."