U.S. Citizens Must Demand a Stop to Big Money in Politics
Chet Hunt, a retired city manager and adjunct professor, is a member of the founding team for the American Promise Association of Knoxville (APAK). Here, Chet shares his thoughts on the current U.S. political situation and why he supports the 28th Amendment.
The framers of the Constitution intended for the Congress of the United States to be dependent on the American people, not on powerful special interests, or third-party groups masquerading as philanthropic organizations, or Super-PACs that stealthily channel unlimited amounts of anonymous “dark money” into our political process to engineer our elections. Some of this money actually has foreign origins with corporations managed by leaders who are not American citizens, loyal to no nation, yet they peddle their influence using their financial might. Conversely, some elected officials will press donors to contribute to their coffers while wielding political power that can affect policies beneficial or detrimental them. This culture has corrupted our democracy with a fundamental imbalance in our representative republic, essentially creating conditions of “taxation without representation.”
When elected officials spend most of their time courting corporations and big-money donors who can afford to purchase favor, constituent representation gets distorted. Consequently, this can influence legislative decisions that serve the interests of a tiny percentage of the population rather than benefiting the majority of citizens. Congress continues to earn historically low approval ratings, yet senators and representatives manage re-election rates exceeding 90 percent. This has created an alarming inequality of citizenship.
Issues Surrounding Big Money in Politics
Take a moment to consider some of the current pervasive problems:
- Examine the deadly opioid crisis, the big pharmaceutical contributions to our elected officials and their positions on desperately needed legislation to solve this problem.
- Observe the assault on our education system as politicians continue to defund our public schools. When these schools flounder and ultimately fail, they are handed over to private interests that pocket public tax dollars.
- Consider the existential threat of climate change, now the greatest challenge to humanity, and the lack of remedial action by Congress to meet that challenge. Note who benefits from this inaction and the politicians who take their money.
- Reflect for a moment on the private prison system and its bloated incarceration rate of non-violent offenders, higher than any other country’s system. Take measure of who profits from such unjust conditions while elected officials fail to correct the problem.
- Question why we experience unsustainable health care costs approaching 18 percent of GDP, the highest ratio in the world, while millions of Americans are unable to access decent health care. Who benefits from this state of affairs, and who in Congress takes money from the health care/insurance industry?
- As a Vietnam veteran with weapons training and a supporter of the Second Amendment, I am perpetually horrified by school shootings involving high-capacity military-style weapons that should not be in the hands of civilians. The vast majority of Americans support sensible gun regulation, yet Congress refuses to act responsibly. Ask yourself, who benefits from this and who is taking money from the gun industry and its affiliates?
When will the interests of the people be properly represented by our elected officials rather than the interests of their moneyed handlers? Campaign finance reform and eradication of political corruption will only come when “we the people” demand it and hold officials accountable.
This is why we must have a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that restores American democracy and ensures that this never happens to our country again. A Constitutional amendment is the only solution that goes above Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections, and will protect both state and federal reform processes as our founders prescribed in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. It pleases me that concerned citizens are now standing up to declare that enough is enough! I stand proudly with them.