Election Campaign Reform
United States Supreme Court
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Article I of the Constitution provides for the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. However, under the Constitutional amendment process, there is no formal process for the people to address their grievances to the Legislative branch.
The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The notion of a popular amendment to the Constitution comes, therefore, from the conceptual framework of the Constitution itself. Its power derives from the people, was adopted by the people and functions at the behest of and for the benefit of the people. As Wilson noted in 1787, "... the people may change the Constitution whenever and however they please. This is a right of which no positive institution can ever deprive them"
Therefore, and herein, the people of the United States assert our power of a "popular amendment" to the Constitution of the United States to effect a change to the process of election campaign funding. Specifically, we demand to include in Article I, The Legislative Branch, section 4, Elections and Meetings, adding a subsection A, laying out rules of campaign financing that specifically make it illegal for special interest groups or lobbyists to donate directly to any legislative election campaign fund.
We propose instead that the Constitution stipulate that a general fund be provided through private and public donations given. Legislative candidates will draw from this general fund handled by their political action campaigns or their respective Party Committees in such a manner as to maintain reporting requirements of a transparent nature to the public at large. Each Legislative candidate will receive an equal share based upon a population formula for each state. It will be up to these individuals to make the most of these funds for their re-elections.
Influence-peddling has become a lucrative business, with everyday lobbying of Congressional members as special interests grow more entrenched. This process often trumps the broader, but less focused, interests of our society as a whole. The need to raise money for election campaigns has become the enemy of a Democratic republic in that it encourages millions in giveaways by well-healed lobby and special interest groups with which the people cannot hope to compete, which at best hinders and at worst negates fair representation on legislative action to the people of this country.
Members of the legislative branch, owing to an inherent interest in preserving their power, will never themselves sponsor true public campaign reform. Yet, we must enact a level legislative playing field and a balancing mechanism in election funding in order to preserve the Constitution and the purpose for which it was written and adopted.
There are two main ways that the interpretation of the Constitution changes. The first is that it adapts to changing circumstances. Today, circumstances are much different than when the Constitution was adopted. The Founding Fathers could not have foretold the economic difficulties we endure, our intertwined global economy, the "too big to fail" financial industry, the millions of dollars given to Congress to influence the laws of the land. The banking, insurance and pharmaceutical industries appear to have become more important to please than the people our legislative branch is sworn to serve.
The second major way the meaning of the Constitution changes is through the Judiciary. As the ultimate arbiter of how the Constitution is interpreted, the Judiciary in actuality wields more power than alluded to by and through the Constitution. Although its duty is to discharge impartial decisions for the will of all, the Judiciary is now often an "activist" bench that has proven susceptible to undue influence. Hence, the high courts may not determine that lobby funding provides an unfair advantage in achieving fair Democratic representation, although the people themselves deem it so.
Change directly demanded by the people themselves may not be the will of the Congress nor of the Judiciary, so the enumerated powers of amendment might not be practical, for they rely on these institutions. However, the real issue is not conceptual, but a reality that if the people do not support the Constitution in its present form, it cannot survive. Consequently, our confidence is shaken that we are a government of, by and for the people. It follows that if the people demand a change, it should be made.
We the people simply do not possess the ways and means of peddling our influence as these special interest groups manage to do, particularly with the job crisis and hobbled economy, and therefore lack the means to compete against them. Therefore, we believe that our legislative representatives accepting lobby funds for the peddling of influence is surely an abuse of powers which clouds their impartiality and hampers their capacity to equitably serve their popular constituencies.
The notion of a popular amendment makes perfect sense in the Constitutional framework process. We therefore demand language that reflects the above, in a popular amendment to Article I, Section 4, with a new inclusion of a subsection A.,, even though the details of effecting such a change could as a practical matter be impossible to resolve. However, lacking faith in change through the enumerated powers inherent in the Constitution, we see no other means to achieve an end to the unfair lobbying practices that so disrupt the Democratic process.
The framers of the constitution specifically designed with separations of powers, to provide a system of shared power known as checks and balances. These checks and balances must also adhere to the peoples desires to allow our voices to be heard, also to maintain a Democratic Republic. Our voices have been silenced through lobbying efforts with their peddling of influence everyday at Capitol Hill. Special interest groups employ Washington insiders, previous congressional staff and aides and this give way to an edge titling with pursuation, away from doing the peoples work in the peoples houses. To the public this gives Congress a black eye and further erodes Democracy. This must change.
Citizens For Change