Referendum in City of Watertown April 7 to Fight Corruption By the Money in System

March 25, 2015
Jo Bostrom, Watertown

Legislators should listen to voters, not special interests
* March 23rd, Letter to the Editor, Daily Times by Jo Bostrom

“We The People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union ...”

This is the beginning of the preamble to our U.S. Constitution. It lays out the importance of the people themselves in the creation and governance of our great nation.

Imagine what might happen if legislators enacted policy on behalf of voters instead of on behalf of the special interests that finance their campaigns. We could once again have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. That doesn’t seem too likely though in today’s political system.

Since the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC, politicians must sell themselves to special interests in order to finance their campaigns and have any reasonable chance at being elected. Unions, corporations and well financed special interests create policy by making the policymakers beholden to their money and their legislative demands. There’s no lobby for the father that goes to work every day at a job he can barely stand in order to make ends meet. There’s no special interest group for the mother that’s struggling to put food on the table for her children. There’s no union for the farmer who’s fighting to keep the farm that’s been in his family for generations. There’s no corporate front group for the small business owner who’s invested her life savings to bring a brilliant idea to fruition.

How can we make legislators legislate on our behalf, for the voters that they were elected to represent? How can we expect to change a system when we’re depending on those that benefit from the system to be the ones to change it? The answer is that we cannot. At least not while corporations, unions and special interests have the same rights as people and money is considered speech.

This isn’t a liberal vs. conservative issue. It isn’t a Democrat vs. Republican issue. It’s an issue of government representing all people vs. government as representatives of powerful people. These are issues that are fundamental to democracy and freedom.

Make your voice heard. On April 7 in Watertown, please vote yes on the referendum supporting a U.S. constitutional amendment to reverse the effects of the Citizens United decision on unlimited campaign spending by stating that artificial entities (corporations, unions and nonprofits) do not have the constitutional rights of human beings and that money is not speech.

If you’re interested in learning more, the public is invited to a free event at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Watertown Senior and Community Center, 514 S. First St.

Lisa Graves, former deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department and executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, along with George Penn of South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend, will speak. Presentations and discussion will focus on the importance of protecting the Bill of Rights for human beings through a constitutional amendment, returning its interpretation to what our Founding Fathers intended. Graves will also discuss preserving our freedom of speech while fighting corruption, conflicts of interest and working to stop the legalized bribery in our government.

These topics are intended to help educate and prepare voters for the April 7 Watertown referendum question. Light refreshments will be available.

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