Money’s dominance over politics is a top problem our nation faces. It prevents us from tackling anything else. We have reached a stunning point: Either we are a country that makes decisions based on the common good, or one where the size of your wallet determines the worth of your ideas. Either we uphold the values of a representative democracy or we allow greed and wealth to destroy the great American experiment in self-governance.
I am committed to working with Wyomingites and Americans to pass a 28th Amendment to our Constitution so people — not money, corporations, unions or special interests — govern America.
We in Wyoming have a unique opportunity to help make this happen. Wyoming Promise (WyomingPromise.org) is a citizens’ grassroots effort to get big money out of politics. It works with several national organizations, including American Promise (AmericanPromise.net), which are coordinating similar efforts in many states. I serve on the cross-partisan National Advisory Council of American Promise and ask that Wyomingites might join to rally our nation to secure our Constitutional foundation before it’s too late.
I do not take lightly any proposal to amend our Constitution, and I recognize, as did James Madison, that we should do so only on “great and extraordinary occasions.” I believe the nation now faces such an occasion.
We need an amendment because the Supreme Court, in cases such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, has made a series of dangerously wrong decisions that make effective reform virtually impossible without one.
The Supreme Court has stated that money to buy political influence is the same as freedom of speech. The Supreme Court decreed that the largest, most powerful corporations have the same Constitutional rights as we humans to spend money to influence elections.
The Supreme Court is wrong. No one has the right to drown out the freedom of others to speak, or to deny the rights of all Americans by corrupting our political process. And no corporation can ever take over the fundamental, inherent rights of human beings – individual citizens.
We know this in Wyoming. Our state Constitution declares, “In their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.” We are not confused about the differences between human beings and corporations. Our Wyoming Constitution also states, “Corporations being creatures of the state, endowed for the public good with a portion of its sovereign powers, must be subject to its control.”
In our Constitution, we also insist on the truth of political equality. This is an equality not of material goods or luck but the simple American equality, where having a lot of money does not give anyone more political rights than anyone else. Section 3 of the Wyoming Constitution is very clear: “Since equality in the enjoyment of natural and civil rights is only made sure through political equality, the laws of this state affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever….”
What right and privilege could be more important than one person-one vote: being able to stand up as an equal citizen to have your say in our political system, knowing that the game is not rigged?
We need to get back to the basics of our Constitution and political system. We cannot accept the law of aristocracy, where the political rights of people are based on their wealth.
I urge Wyomingites to support a 28th Amendment and have reasonable limits on election spending, reform pay-to-play politics and secure liberty and equal representation rather than turn over our government to a global corporate marketplace.
Millions of Americans have signed on to support the amendment. Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree that we must do this.
In Montana and Colorado, voters have approved 28th Amendment ballot initiatives by 75-25%.
We should place Wyoming on the right side of this fight for the future of our democracy. But, like any great cause, we have much work ahead of us. Wyoming Promise is collecting 39,000 signatures from registered voters across the state to get a cross-partisan citizens’ initiative on the November 2018 ballot that would call for a 28th Amendment to restore free and fair elections.
I look forward to working with Wyomingites to bring the people of our state and country together to win a 28th Amendment and restore our Wyoming promise of human liberty, equal citizenship and responsible self-government.