(MintPress) – After a record $5.2 billion dollars was spent in the 2012 election cycle, growing numbers of voters are calling for a move to publicly finance elections. Leading the way is Wisconsin, a progressive state where many citizens are pushing for a statewide referendum to oppose Citizens United, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case allowing corporations to giving virtually unlimited funds to political campaigns.
The case has been widely criticized as having a corrupting influence on America’s democracy, and large numbers are beginning to rise up in opposition to Citizens United. Eleven states and more than 400 communities have already passed local ordinances in opposition to the highly unpopular ruling. Wisconsin could join that group should the referendum gain enough public support.
Growing opposition to Citizens United
The burgeoning campaign has been organized by The Center for Media and Democracy, a media watchdog organization. According to a recent posting on their website, The Center for Media and Democracy “is joining forces with a statewide coalition to put Wisconsin on the record opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision and to put us on the path towards reclaiming our democracy.”
Americans, regardless of party affiliation remain largely opposed to Citizens United according to opinion polls conducted shortly after the ruling. A Washington-Post ABC news poll released in January 2010 shows that 80 percent of Americans oppose the decision that grants corporations the ability to give virtually unlimited funds to political action committees (PACs) advocating for a particular political party or candidate.
Removing corporate and special interest money is particularly salient for Wisconsin, the site of a labor unrest in 2011, and a failed recall election after Governor Scott Walker helped pass right-to-work legislation limiting the collective bargaining of unions.
Further subverting transparency in Wisconsin state elections was the proliferation of secretive, out-of-state funding in the 2012 election cycle. The Center for Media and Democracy reports that, “In Wisconsin’s House and Senate races, $32 million was spent by outside interest groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, and almost 36 percent of that total was completely untraceable.”
While passing state and city laws in opposition to Citizens United and big money spending is an important step, much larger action is needed in order to end corporate personhood and unlimited, unregulated campaign spending.
The U.S. Supreme Court will have to overturn the ruling, or both houses of Congress would have to pass a constitutional amendment in opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling.