Very little will ever get done until we reform our broken and corrupt campaign finance system. I hear about it everyday. The economic and political systems in this country are stacked against ordinary Americans. The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections.
Today is the sixth-year anniversary of Citizens United, one of the most disastrous Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime. This decision hinges on the absurd notion that money is speech, that corporations are people, and that giving huge piles of undisclosed cash in support of politicians in exchange for influence does not constitute corruption.
In essence, this ruling handed millionaires and billionaires — who have already rigged our economy — unlimited influence in our elections. It gave billionaires like the Koch Brothers an even bigger opportunity to purchase the House, the Senate, even the White House.
Super PACs — a direct outgrowth of the Citizens United decision — are enabling the wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country to spend unlimited amounts on elections.
We know, for example, that the Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, want to use the Citizens United decision to buy politicians across the country. This election cycle alone, they have committed to spend at least $750 million on political activities — an outrageous sum that is corrupting our political process. And I can assure you, brothers and sisters, they won’t be spending that money with the interests of working families, women, and seniors in mind. That is simply unacceptable, and it’s time for the American people to rise up and reclaim our democracy.
Let’s be honest and acknowledge what we are talking about. We are talking about a rapid movement in this country towards a political system in which a handful of very wealthy people and special interests will determine who gets elected or who does not get elected. That is not what this country is supposed to be about. That was not Abraham Lincoln’s vision of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The need for real campaign finance reform is not a progressive issue. It is not a conservative issue. It is an American issue. It is an issue that should concern all Americans, regardless of their political point of view, who wish to preserve the essence of the longest standing democracy in the world — a government that represents all of the people and not a handful of powerful and wealthy special interests.
Our campaign is doing so well because we are telling the truth about the reality of American life today. We are talking about a reality in which most of the new wealth and income in this country are going to the top one percent while working families are struggling more than at any point since the Great Depression.
My vision for American democracy is a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, and can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful. While other politicians will make you the same promise, I am the only candidate running for the Democratic nomination who does not have a super PAC. And I am the only one who is telling the truth about the corrupting influence of Wall Street bankers and the obscenely wealthy in our elections.
We have to create a political revolution where working Americans come together to say they have had ENOUGH of the billionaire class buying our elections to enrich themselves while everyone else gets poorer. More than ever, we need a president who has a firm commitment to the American people — and no one else.
Our vision for democracy should be one in which candidates are speaking to the vast majority of our people – working people, the middle class, low-income people, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor – and discussing with them their ideas as to how we can improve lives for all people in this country.
I believe this vision of American can be a reality once again. We just have to do something unprecedented in the coming months — defy the odds and win the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
I am glad you are standing with us.