Folks don’t agree on much these days, at least not when it comes to politics. But there is one idea that has widespread support from people of all political parties, and the majority of us unaffiliated with any party at all. We are all fed up with how massive campaign contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations have taken away control of our government. Question Two gives the We the People of Massachusetts – all of us – the chance to start to take control of government back.
Congress has shown again and again that it won’t pass meaningful campaign finance reform. Which is not surprising, since Big Money put most of those legislators in office and keeps them there. (Incumbents raise 5 to 10 times as much money as challengers.) And the Supreme Court in recent years has struck down the few limits Congress did enact, starting with the infamous Citizens United case in 2010, in which the court ruled that since corporations and unions have the same rights as living breathing people (another idea the Question Two Amendment seeks to change), that these rich organizations can make practically unlimited campaign donations. People of all political persuasions were outraged. Talk about a bipartisan issue! Eighty-seven percent of Americans said they wanted Citizens United overturned.
That’s just what Question Two tries to do. It would create a non-partisan 15-member Citizens Commission, appointed by a cross section of the state’s top elected officials (three members each by the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and House and Senate leaders), to get the Massachusetts Legislature to send Congress a 28th amendment to the constitution that would put reasonable controls on campaign spending, and limit the rights of corporations and unions. The Citizens Commission will recommend language for the amendment, press the Legislature to act, and prepare Massachusetts to ratify the amendment after Congress sends it to the states. The Commission will be all volunteer — any citizen can apply to be on it – and operate at no cost to taxpayers.
The Citizens Commission is just one small step, but it would add important momentum to a national movement for the profound change America so badly needs right now. Trust in government is at an all-time low. The need for campaign finance reform, which Americans have been demanding for decades, has never been greater. So is the need for an issue on which we can all agree, an idea we can all support, something that can bridge our divisions, not widen them. Question Two answers those needs. Take back control of your government, by approving Question Two.
David Ropeik is chairman of the YesOn2 Campaign Communications Committee.