The Michigan Daily’s recent article (From the Daily: Restore Democracy 4/16/13) calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission is frustrating, to say the least. Their expressed desire to reverse the decision is overzealous and misinformed.
The editorial board advocates ending the influence of money in politics. This is ridiculous. Money is an integral part of politics not only for funding elections — the Daily’s main quibble — but also as a means for political participation. This has been the case since the inception of elections and will continue until they expire. Furthermore, the Daily asserts that contributions by corporations marginalize individual voters. This is shortsighted, as money is not the sole — or even preferred — means of participating in politics.
There are many ways in which we can influence the vote. These range from simple acts like placing a bumper sticker with a candidate’s likeness on our car to more involved ones such as protesting or campaigning for a candidate. In addition, monetary contributions are a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Individuals can donate money to campaigns, so why can’t a group of citizens who decide to organize themselves into a corporation? While corporations are well suited to making financial contributions, they are weak in other forms of political speech. Thus, the Daily should be asking how to curb money’s influence, rather than how to end its influence.
I appreciate the Daily identifying the need for campaign finance reform. That being said, their suggested overhaul reveals either a complete disregard for the First Amendment or a lack of understanding for how politics work.