NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 31, 2012

How about backing what isn't controversial

Thankfully, the election is almost here, with its candidates and ballot questions. Finally … you may say.

What about after Nov. 6? Do we just wait for the next election? Certainly not, because regardless of which candidates win, and which party controls the House and Senate in Washington, there is a fundamental issue that this election will only begin to resolve, partly because little attention has been paid to it in debates or news coverage.

An explanation for this inattention is that it’s not controversial. I’m speaking of a ballot question facing voters in the Newburyport area and in many other Massachusetts communities. You won’t find information about this issue in the excellent guide distributed by the secretary of state, because that mailing covers only statewide questions.

Is there way too much money being heaped onto our campaigns, often anonymously and sometimes with foreign entanglements? That’s the essence.

The text of the question is:

Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that (1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and (2) both Congress and the States may place limits on political contributions and political spending?

You can believe what you’ve read in this case, because it is not controversial – that’s the point. Hardly anyone likes all this type and volume of spending on our elections, regardless of political party affiliation; hardly anyone, if we’re talking about natural persons - you and me.

However, if instead of using your common sense, you go by what five Supreme Court justices fantasized in their 2010 decision known as Citizens United, then corporations and unions are people, too. They don’t want to go back to being creations of natural persons as the founders clearly intended. They don’t want to go back to being businesses that provide jobs or unions that represent workers, and leave the voting to voters, rather than using their union millions and corporate billions as speech.

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