To the editor:
Shall people or money rule? That is a question that Americans must answer in November. It was not always so. Until 2010 it was not, but in that year the Supreme Court ruled by 5 to 4 in the Citizens United case that independent groups could give all they wished on behalf of a candidate or party as long as they do not give the money to the candidate or party. The five justices were named by Republican presidents, the four dissenters by Democratic presidents.
This decision opened the floodgates to unlimited spending on behalf of a candidate or party. Until this decision one could give only $5,000 to a candidate or $80,000 to a party. The Court defended this decision by ruling than money was speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. It follows that if money is speech than a billionaire has more speech than an ordinary citizen, and the poor have none at all,
The decision led to the creation of Super Pacs which spent immense sums of money. The Super Pacs of the wealthier party, of course, dwarfed those of the less wealthy party. In 2010, independent Republican groups outspent independent Democratic groups by 20 to 1. In the present campaign, Romney's Super Pacs have raised $229 million, Obama's only $30 million. In 2012, the Republicans spent some $70 million on TV ads, the Democrats only $1.6 million.
Republicans are not only determined to buy the White House, but Congress also. Citizens United opened the door for REDMAP, a new strategy aimed at engineering a Republican takeover of state legislatures, In North Carolina, James Arthur (Art) Pope, a multi-millionaire, vowed to use his fortune to bring North Carolina back into the Republican camp. The billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, have purchased $25 million in TV spots in eleven states. The casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent $41.1 to defeat Democrats in eleven swing states. He has pledged to spend as much as $400 million by November. Since 1971, corporate Pacs have increased their spending on congressional races fivefold.
If the influence of money is not checked, democracy, which is the voice of the people, will wither on the vine, to be replaced by money, which is the voice of the wealthy. In that case we shall not be a democracy, but a plutocracy.