COMMENTARY | This year will mark the first United States presidential election campaign in which corporations may spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our votes for president or any other elected office in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United. The ruling declared that the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, and especially free political speech, applied not just to you and me as human beings and American citizens, but to corporations as well, as reported by the New York Times.
Corporations Buying Disproportionate Political Influence
In the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns, we are seeing unprecedented funds being gathered and spent trying to convince us to vote for one particular candidate. Because corporations have substantially deeper pockets than the overwhelming majority of actual U.S. citizens, it can be argued that the Citizens United ruling gives them a disproportionate influence over the outcome of elections when compared to the influence that you or I might exert.
One Constitutional Freedom Corporations Lack
At present, however, there is one key election power reserved wholly for people like us, the vote itself. While rulings like Citizens United might cause some to feel that the value of their votes is diminished, it should do just the opposite.
Regardless of how much money politically motivated corporations choose to spend, it is your vote they want. To nullify the power of the Citizens United ruling, all we need to do is simply refuse to sell our votes. Instead of allowing ourselves to be influenced by massively financed corporate smear campaigns, we need to be smart consumers.
Seek out the actual positions of each candidate directly from their own campaign web sites. Listen to the candidates speak during the series of televised presidential debates. Don’t rely on he said-she said third-party commercials, seek out facts from credible sources (which generally does not include blogs or web-sites operated by partisan hacks).
Corporate Goals vs. America’s Goals
A corporation has one goal: to earn the highest possible return for its owners. While some proclaim themselves to have other motivations, they are secondary to protecting the bottom line. Any corporation that advocates for one candidate or issue does so, not because it is better for you or better for the country, but because it results in more money in its own corporate coffers.
Let Citizens United Unite Citizens
This year, let Citizens United power the citizens to unite in opposition to corporate sponsored political ads. Vote not for the candidate that best serves Wall Street, Halliburton, or Monsanto, but for the candidate that will best serve you and best serve America.