President Obama spoke to the people of America on Saturday. With the campaign season for the fall election heating up, his message was focused on the insidious effects of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizens United case. The President cited the recent “flood of attack ads, run by shadowy groups with harmless sounding names.” He contended that the people deserve to know who’s behind these campaign ads, and argued that the Disclose Act, which is being blocked by Senate Republicans, is an effective device to accomplish that end.
Legislation that’s directed at greater disclosure by donors, the Disclose Act would require, “special interest group officials to physically appear at the end of campaign ads they sponsor, acknowledging their campaign contributions.” It would also prevent foreign run entities from interfering in our election process, undoing another detrimental side effect of Citizens United. The bill was already passed by the House, with 2 Republicans voting in favor, along with all but 30 Democrats. But the legislation has been stalled since it reached the Senate.
Falling into the prevalent pattern of Senate dysfunction, the Disclose Act is just another bill to find itself the victim of Republican obstruction. Needing one more vote to gain cloture and avoid filibuster, Americans will not gain knowledge of the people behind the campaign ads unless Democrats can get at least one Republican to break ranks and put The People above the Party.
Asked for comment on the legislation, Mitch “Tax cuts pay for themselves” McConnell offered more nonsensical blather. According to McConnell, “The president says this bill is about transparency. It’s transparent all right. It’s a transparent effort to rig the fall elections.” So, in the Senate Minority Leader’s own words, informing voters of who’s paying for campaign attack ads somehow amounts to rigging the election.
I’m sure that Senator McConnell had no intent of supporting the President’s position, but based on his own comments, it’s hard to refute what President Obama had to say regarding Republican opposition to the bill, “This can only mean that the leaders of the other party want to keep the public in the dark.” The President added that, “They don’t want you to know which interests are paying for the ads. The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”
The November election will be laced with illegitimate attack ads of all sorts, and those ads will come from both sides. This has long been the case, and now the problem has been magnified by the Citizens United decision. The Disclose Act is essential legislation that can’t prevent the ads, but can at least inform the voters who’s behind them. It’s like truth in advertising 101, and the Republicans want no part of it. That fact alone should call their position into question.
Concerned voters need to speak out and make sure their representatives understand that We the People want to know. Voters want transparency. Big-Money has already hijacked the American government, and the Supreme Court, through Citizens United, has given them yet another avenue to exert their will. Corporations are not people, and in the long term, our nation needs reform to undo the damage of this decision. Such reform is already underway in the form of a constitutional amendment carrying 74 cosponsors in the House. People can also voice their support at Free Speech for People.
Like campaign finance reform, the Disclose Act should have nothing to do with partisan differences. The fact that it is being debated along party lines should be sufficient cause to make people stand up and take notice. Citizens United was anti-democracy at its very worst. To fight against its reform is un-American.