Happy birthday, America! Or if not happy, then at least in pursuit of it. The inspirational sentiments in the Declaration of Independence have always been aspirational – that is, things we aspire to even if they are not current reality. We declared that “all men are created equal” while slavery was still a reality. Now we celebrate the “inalienable right” to liberty while some refugees are detained without trial for months. Yet the hope for Liberty and the opportunity to live freely, still draws people to America from all over the world.
We have a republic worth keeping, worth defending and renewing. Our founding fathers put their faith in the people, to “govern the governors.” Jefferson believed the people “alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power.”. The “informed” part is critical! Madison put it this way: “A popular government without popular information is but a prolog to a farce, or a tragedy.” Abe Lincoln expressed faith in the people even the midst of the civil war. “Let them know the truth, and the country is safe.”
Today it is very difficult for the voters to know the truth, especially when it comes to election information. Ever since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, much of the information we receive to persuade our vote comes from anonymous sources. federal and state campaign finance laws aimed at preventing corruption do not apply to the corporations that Citizens United allowed into the political process.
Citizens United created a loophole in the fabric that protects our elections from corruption. In Arizona, all other sources of political spending to persuade your vote must be transparent – donors of $50 or more must be reported to the Secretary of State by candidates, political parties, and Political Action Committees (PACs). But not the corporations that are permitted to spend unlimited amounts anonymously to influence our vote. Other states have adopted laws to close this loophole. But not yet Arizona.
Today we have the opportunity to close the loophole by signing the Outlaw Dirty Money petition. If enough people sign, Arizona voters can vote for or against closing the loophole on the 2020 ballot. If the voters approve, Outlaw Dirty Money will require the corporations that currently participate in elections anonymously to report their large contributors – those who give $5,000 or more to finance political speech over a two-year period of time. It doesn’t stop anyone from spending. It only requires the donor to identify themselves.
Today we celebrate the birth of our democracy. Tomorrow and in days to come we can make a personal contribution to protecting our democracy by signing the Outlaw Dirty Money petition.
For more information about Outlaw Dirty Money and how to sign a
petition, go to www.outlawdirtymoney.com