The money of the rich clogs the mouth of the people



Even as students we hear about the influence of money in politics.

It is not just a catchy headline or campaign slogan; it is a dirty truth, and one of the most ironic things about our democracy. In working so hard to maintain freedom of speech, the Founding Fathers may have inadvertently suppressed it, by cutting out the little man.

As college students, in 10 to 20 years you and I will be the backbone of this country. We will live with the consequences of the decisions that are now being made.

Amid the government shutdown, the debt ceiling fight and the Affordable Care Act standoff, one piece of news has largely gone unnoticed.

The Supreme Court took up a case on campaign finance limits.

The candidate that spends the most money wins their election as much as 90 percent of the time, so pouring vast amounts of money into elections is a huge deal.

Historically there have been limits to how much money a person, or corporation after Citizens United, can donate to a campaign.

That is being weighed by the Supreme Court.

The Citizens United decision in 2010 labeled corporations as “people” in the sense that they are also guaranteed free speech; this opened the door for super PACs (political action committees).

These non-profit organizations can spend their money for a political cause. The controversy with Citizens United is that corporations can now give unlimited money to a PAC of their choosing, or start a PAC, allowing the corporation to flood elections with their money, their advertising and sometimes, their candidates.

Shaun McCutcheon, a prominent businessman from Alabama has sued the Federal Election Commission to remove finance limits altogether, allowing that flood of money to flow directly to the candidates themselves.

He argues that limiting contributions is a limitation on free speech. Spending money is an expression protected as free speech, and this defense has been used in courts to protect pornography, civil disobedience and even communism.

The greatest fear in striking down campaign finance limits is that politicians will be bought by people or companies, and that you and I will have little or no access to them if we cannot write six-figure checks.

In the first elections after Citizens United election spending jumped 400 percent, and that would only grow if McCutcheon won his case.

Lobbying has now become the most lucrative return on investment for businesses: think about that for a minute.

Free speech is a right every American should always have; men and women have died so we could enjoy it.

However, free elections are just as vital for freedom to thrive.

Even in Citizens United, campaign finance limits were upheld so it is difficult to tell where the Supreme Court might rule, but many feel a constitutional amendment is the only way to fix the problem.

Senator Mitch McConnell’s seat is being hotly contested in the upcoming elections by both the Tea Party and Democrats. If campaign finance limits are struck down, you and I will have a front row seat to the immediate aftermath.

If you thought Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama ran too many ads, just wait.

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