by Alyssa Milano | 2.28.19
Dark money and special interests hold far too much power in American politics. But there is a way for the people to take their government back.
I attended Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year to stand in solidarity with victims everywhere who had been ignored or who had their stories silenced by those in power.
Because, after all, Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court was a debate about power — not just about Kavanaugh’s, but also about whose interests are being served on our nation’s highest court and by our political system. Dark money special interests — organizations that do not need to disclose their donors — spent millions of dollars to help ensure Kavanaugh was confirmed because they knew he’d be a reliable vote to further concentrate power in this country, while making it harder for everyone else to be heard.
Whether it’s giving men who are credibly accused of sexual assault the benefit of the doubt without regard to the dignity of survivors, prioritizing the profits of Big Pharma over patients desperately in need of prescriptions they can’t afford, or giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy while hard-working families struggle to make ends meet, the root of all these problems is an imbalance of power designed to protect the wealthy and corporations that bankroll our elected officials.
Sacrificing democracy to special interests
For years, when it comes to who has access to our democracy, the Supreme Court has regularly sided with the wealthy and corporate special interests, at the expense of everyone else. They’ve stacked the deck in cases like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates for corporations, special interests and others to dominate our politics, and Shelby County v. Holder, which undermined the Voting Rights Act, allowing state lawmakers to pass draconian laws aimed at disenfranchising voters.
The Supreme Court may have made it harder to be heard in our democracy, but there are real ways we can come together and fight back.
With the help of good government groups such as End Citizens United, which encourages candidates to run on a platform of fighting corruption and ending the outsize power of special interests, Democrats took back the House and introduced a transformative piece of legislation that ensures everyone has a voice in our system — no matter the size of their bank account.
That bill, the For the People Act, has been dubbed HR 1 to signify its prominence as the first priority of the House, thanks in part to the commitment of this Democratic freshman class. It’s once-in-a-generation reform that hasn’t been seen since Watergate.
This bill will change the dynamics in Washington by protecting the right to vote for every eligible American, ending the undue and outsize influence of big money in politics by requiring disclosure, and strengthening ethics laws to ensure that politicians aren’t trading the public trust for personal profit.
Restore power to the people
First, it’ll make sure Americans know which billionaires and corporations are trying to influence our elections by requiring dark money groups to disclose their biggest donors.
Through this clean elections provision and its matching system, the bill will empower small-dollar donations, which will allow candidates to run on the strength of their grassroots support and free them up to spend more time meeting with families in their district instead of pleading with megadonors for high-dollar contributions. The result will be politicians who are more accountable to people instead of billionaires and corporations.
The bill will overhaul our country’s ethics and lobbying rules to ensure that members of Congress and public officials are working in the public interest.
Finally, after a raft of voter suppression efforts following the Shelby decision, the bill includes policies to protect the right to vote, make voting easier and ensure the integrity of our elections.
Lobbyists, special interests and the politicians who benefit from the current system are calling this a partisan power grab. They’re wrong.
It’s a power grab for moms and dads saving to send their kids to college. It’s a power grab for senior citizens struggling to pay for their prescription drug bills. It’s a power grab for families who don’t want to pay more taxes or watch their Social Security and Medicare benefits be raided to pay for corporate tax cuts. It’s a power grab for any American worried about the future of this country and whether their children or grandchildren will have the same opportunities as they did.
I’m fortunate to be able to attend congressional hearings, appear on TV, and be a public advocate for issues I care about. My background gives me a voice that so many in this country don’t have. We’ve got to change that. We can have the government we aspire for, one that works in the best interest of the people it exists to represent. That’s why I support the For the People Act and hope it becomes law.
Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP
Written by Alyssa Milano
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