Letter to the Editor – May 28, 2014

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Time for courage

To the Editor:

Many Democrats in Congress, including U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, support a proposed constitutional amendment to fix the federal campaign system. The proposal would take aim at the political action committees and unregulated money flowing into campaigns.

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United in 2010, you could say big corporations and labor unions won the fight over average Americans regarding freedom of speech. The trend continued in early April when the Supreme Court ruled to strike down the overall limits that wealthy donors can contribute to political campaigns. Once again, the average guy without much influence or access to our political system was left on the sideline.

I’ve heard debate about public disclosure of money to campaigns, which is a good thing. My idea of a democracy is citizens freely discussing and debating issues without secrecy or special access. How can our democracy work when big corporations or wealthy individuals spend obscene amounts of money to influence elections and remain anonymous besides? The average guy can go down to city hall and sit next to his neighbor and have a completely different view-point and walk away without getting into fist fight. We expect civility and respect, unlike other countries where masked men roam and burn buildings due to political ideology. It hasn’t always been easy in this country, but we can be proud of the gift we call democracy.

So, this is a time in our country’s history to stand up and reverse the trend of big money and special interests in our political system. If it takes a constitutional amendment to address this issue, then I concur, but the Democrats in Congress need to turn this into more than an election year gimmick.

They way things stand now in Congress, this constitutional amendment won’t move forward without Republican support. Why not include term limits, which the Tea Party faction of the conservative wing endorses? Why not craft tougher regulations for Washington D.C. lobbyists and some former members of Congress who feed at the same taxpayer trough?

One thing is for sure, this endeavor will take courage. Putting the flag and democracy up for sale isn’t courageous. We can do better than this.

Jeffrey W. Flaten


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