Self Expression Magazine

Massachusetts Democracy Amendment

By Martingevans

Cambridge Chronicle letter.


Cambridge —

On Nov. 6, the voters of Cambridge overwhelmingly supported the ballot question call for the overturn of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United Decision.

That foolish decision has resulted in a flood of corporate and personal money into loosely regulated PAC's which spewed an unpleasant stream of attack advertisements into the swing states; yes, the Boston media benefited because neighboring New Hampshire was deemed “in play.”

The voters of Cambridge came out in overwhelming support for the ballot question, 85 percent in favor. Even our more conservative neighbors in Essex County, Boxford, Rowley, and Georgetown had majorities in the high 50s. Scott Brown's hometown of Wrentham voted 76 percent in favor, out polling Brown himself by 5.8 percent.

Massachusetts as a whole voted 79 percent and similar margins were obtained in Montana, Colorado, and several western cities. Clearly a constitutional amendment's time has come; the Supreme Court's decision cannot be allowed to stand.

Passing a constitutional amendment is not, in John Gardner's felicitous phrase, “for the short-winded.” It will take time and perseverance in Massachusetts, in New England, and across the nation. Here in Cambridge as well as these other jurisdictions, we have given it a kick-start by passing this ballot question by a large margin.

Now the real work begins:

As you know, constitutional amendments requires passage by three super-majorities in the US Congress, the U.S. Senate, and by the State legislatures. These are high hurdles to pass but we have managed to pass 17 amendments since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791.

The state Legislature and 170 municipalities in the state have called for a Constitutional Amendment by ballot question or local resolution. We the people have spoken on this issue. Now it is time for our elected officials to heed the call for change.

What can you do next?

Make sure your Congressman and Senators are in support of such an amendment; for the record, several different amendments focusing on different aspects of the problem (corporate citizenship, money in politics) have been proposed in the U.S. House and Senate. If they are in support give them encouragement. If they are silent on the issue so far, please give them a push in the right direction.

We can also put pressure on our representatives and our senators to support passage of the Disclose Act, which would provide some transparency as to who was funding the PAC's and super PAC's. Prior to the Citizens United decision, disclosure was the policy of the Republican Party. The Citizens United decision explicitly encouraged Congress to pass legislation to ensure disclosure of the donors' identities. Republicans have blocked this legislation in the past year; but after the election, there may be a new window of opportunity.

Finally, write to the Securities and Exchange Commission supporting Lucian Bebchuk's (Harvard Law School) proposal that corporate political speech should be decided by shareholders not by corporate boards. In the light of recent evidence that big political spenders have lower profitability than other companies this might result in a curbing of political money-speech.

Again thank you for supporting the Democracy Amendment.

— Martin G. Evans, Griswold Street, treasurer, Citizens for a Democracy Amendment

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