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Letters | 11-25-14

November 25, 2014 - 12:05am

Dark money, dark days

Now that the elections are behind us, it is time to reflect on what we have seen.

Hawaii did not succumb to outrageous spending by outside interests. Monsanto and its agribusiness cronies spent $8 million to defeat Maui county’s genetically modified organisms ban — the most expensive campaign in Hawaii’s history. Yet the measure was successful.

However, elsewhere in the U.S., special interest money did prevail. Republicans now control both houses of Congress. But even more important than the actual outcome of the election was the way it unfolded: dark and negative. An unprecedented $4 billion was spent on this midterm election, the majority of it dark money, coming from super political action committees funded outside the district in which it was spent. This money was spent by a few very rich individuals and large corporations to advance their narrow self-interest. More than one-third of the super PAC money was contributed by 42 individuals. The vast majority of the remainder was contributed by large corporations. In its disastrous Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “money is speech” and corporations are “persons.” If that is indeed so, then these 42 super rich people and corporate “persons” have a powerful sound system. The rest of us have laryngitis.

The lesson of this election is that our democracy is seriously broken. If the “natural” individuals of this nation are to reassert control of our government, we must act with steadfastness and determination to pass a constitutional amendment declaring that money is not speech and corporations are not citizens.

Fortunately a thriving movement is afoot to accomplish this formidable task. Spearheading this movement is the organization Move to Amend. Even during this election’s swing to the right, many cities had ballot measures calling for such a constitutional amendment. In every single town the vote was supportive, often by an overwhelming margin. For example even while returning conservative Gov. Scott Walker to office, the voters in 12 Wisconsin cities voted overwhelming in favor of such an amendment. This is not a partisan issue.

Passing a constitutional amendment is a formidable task, but it has been done 27 times before. Move to Amend, a national coalition of hundreds of organizations and more than 370,000 people, is orchestrating a grass-roots movement to make it happen. Across the country, 16 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as almost 600 towns, villages, cities and other organizations. You can make your voice heard by signing the Pledge to Amend petition at and working with MTA to get our elected officials to take the MTA pledge. Let’s take back our democracy.

Marvin Feldman

Captain Cook

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