In a fund-raising blast sent to the remaining signers of the Move to Amend petition, the National Leadership Team (NLT) railed against far-right billionaires David and Charles Koch and ignored the role of left-wing billionaires in the U.S. oligarchy. This ideological messaging, replicated by the Democratic End Citizens United group, only alienates people needed in the movement to amend the Constitution if it’s going to be successful and therefore undermines the chances for success. Not everyone supporting these group’s amendment agenda are liberals or other leftists, and that’s a good thing. The Framers established a high bar of required support for constitutional amendments, two thirds of Congress to pass an amendment or two thirds of states to call for an amendment convention. That requires trans-ideological messaging in order to keep the principled conservatives and libertarians, who currently support an amendment to overturn the Citizens United and related, illegitimate Court decisions, supportive of — if not involved with — the efforts to amend the Constitution.
In the blast, the NLT writes:
At their annual retreat in Palm Springs, the fantastically wealthy Koch Brothers promised to spend $889 million in the 2016 electoral cycle through their networks of PACs. (This figure doesn’t even count the many millions they will spend on lobbying Congress directly.)
Move to Amend is working to overturn recent Supreme Court decisions that opened the floodgates to this kind of spending. It boggles the mind that so much wealth has been transferred out of the pockets of working Americans, only to be spent in elections, the sole purpose of which is to transfer more wealth out of the pockets of American workers.
The Koch Brothers and their minions don’t like democracy and are doing everything in their power to undermine it, despite the fact that our democratic institutions enabled them to amass their wealth in the first place.
Move to Amend is the antithesis of everything the Kochs represent.
The End Citizens United group, organized by Democratic Party (DCCC) operatives, Greg Berlin and Jake Lipsett, make the same mistake. In their recent fundraising email, they wrote, “On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton pledged her support for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United,” and completely ignored Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R, NC) statement from four days before Secretary Clinton’s supposed “pledge:” “Well, Citizens United has gotta be fixed, Graham said and added, “Y’all agree with that? You’re gonna need a constitutional amendment to fix this problem.” Senator Graham’s statement was far more definitive on the matter. Yet, on their website, they claim, “…big money groups — most prominently those on the far right — are seizing more and more control of America’s electoral system.” On their “About” page, they add:
We can’t afford to stand idly by while the Koch Brothers and the ultra-rich use SuperPACs — and even shadier dark money organizations — to rig our elections. They’re buying our local representatives.They’re buying U.S. Senators. They’re hell-bent on buying the next President. They’ve got to be stopped.
In fact, massive spending by all billionaires, regardless of ideological bent, undermines democratic order by drowning out the voices of average Americans. This is as true for George and Jonathan Soros, Tom Steyer and Jim and Marilyn Simons on the left as it is for the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Linda and Vince McMahon on the right. According to a POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service, the 100 biggest donors of 2014 gave nearly $174 million to Democrats, compared to more than $140 million to Republicans. Corruption in America is bi-partisan.
A left-wing movement employing progressive, anti-right messaging, is not welcoming to conservatives as has been noted here previously. Worse, it’s destructive to the trans-ideological approach that is required. The numbers are clear: in 2014, only 24% of Americans self-identified as “liberal.” In the same Gallup Poll, 38% self-identified as “conservative” and 34% self-identified as “moderate.” According to Real Clear Politics.com, “The GOP now controls 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers – the highest number in the history of the party.” No amendment will see the light of day if it does not have active support from across the political spectrum. It’s imperative for amendment supporters to make it clear: left-wing oligarchs and right-wing are a threat to democratic order.
The Free Speech for People organization notes, “79% of Americans support passage of an amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling and make clear that corporations do not have the same rights as people.” Clearly, that includes many conservatives and moderates. Free Speech for People grasps the numbers and messaging. They write, “This is a truly American campaign. This is not Democrat versus Republican versus Independent. It is the voice of the American people versus corporate power.” That cross-partisan, trans-ideological messaging is not just better; it is absolutely necessary if “the American people” are going to overturn the illegitimate Supreme Court decisions with a constitutional amendment.
Liberals and conservatives working together on an issue translates into political power that is unstoppable. Billionaire donors can spend as much as they want, but they can only vote once. The only force that has the power to challenge the wealthy donor class is informed voters. A constituency united on an important issue can be a stronger influence on policy than the special interests, their lobbyists and their millions in campaign cash combined. Polls and ballot measure results prove that an amendment has a trans-ideological constituency, and it will remain so only if organizations advocating for an amendment to restore our republic refrain from alienating the very people needed to pass and ratify something like the Sovereignty Amendment.