It goes without saying that one of the basic principles of a democracy is that everyone is allowed to have an equal voice. For a country like the United States the idea of everyone having an equal voice in a democracy and a fair shot at building a good life for themselves is a big deal.
The United States can trace its origins back to Great Britain. Arguably many of the people who would play a role in the creation of the United States came from a society where social mobility was incredibly restricted and class status was irrevocably fixed. It was difficult for someone who was born into poverty in 17th century Great Britain to rise through the ranks to a higher class or even consider becoming a member of the nobility. According to crunchbase.com, arguably the principles that are embedded in the United States’ constitution are meant to counteract this or to reject this idea that a person’s destiny can or should be determined by the accident of his or her birth. One of the measures that is meant to maintain this equality is the electoral process through which people choose a leader to guide the government at the federal, state and local levels.
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The idea of everyone having an equal voice is a very simple one but it is also a notion that is being challenged by rulings like Citizens United. Citizens United is the phrase used as shorthand to refer to a controversial Supreme Court ruling that resulted in corporations being given the same free speech rights as human citizens when it comes to spending money on elections. Essentially the ruling established that corporations’ campaign donations would be protected under the First Amendment under the notion that not to do so would infringe upon a corporation’s right to exercise free speech. As political magazine Mother Jones put it the Citizens United decision essentially undid a century “of precedent” where campaign finance rules were concerned. It has created a political landscape where entities known as superPACs (PAC stands for political action committee) can roam freely and inject large amounts of capital into political races that benefit the corporation’s interests even if those interests harm the wellbeing of everyday people.
There are efforts underway that seek to overturn and end the Citizens United ruling. One of them is a political action committee that is known as End Citizens United. The group’s goal is get “big money” out of the electoral process and according to USA TODAY it has raised funds to accomplish that aim. End Citizens United raised 4 million in the first quarter of 2017 in its bid to elect candidates who will advocate for campaign-finance reform. The group’s executive director said that approximately 100,000 people donated to the organization in the first quarter.