Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 6, 2012, 4:45 p.m. EST by Rico
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
We all seem to agree that money in politics is a problem. Many of us think this problem is related to corporations alone and think we should silence their "speech".
First, folks need to consider why associations of people have a right to free speech. Each individual person in an association of people has a right to free speech. If they choose to make a statement or do anything else that each of them has a right to do individually in unison, they are free to do so. The mere fact that they elect to associate does not deprive them of their individual rights. Attempting to deny people their right to speech simply because they choose to associate and speak with one voice is an incursion on individual liberties. We have to be careful how we tread and understand the underlying basis of our laws before instinctively calling for their change.
It is equally important to understand that corporations are not the only associations of people acting in unison when it comes to political contributions. Unions and trade groups are also associations of people and they also use their rights to speak and act in unison in regards politics.
The top all-time political contributors from the period 1989 to present are available for review at http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php. I have summarized below the data for the top 20 political donors over the period from 1989 to 2012 in order of the amount given and percentage to Democrats (D) and Republicans (R).
- 1 ActBlue, $57,248,360, 99% D, 0% R
- 2 AT&T Inc, $47,859,717, 44% D, 55% R
- 3 Fed of State, County & City Employees, $46,380,898, 94% D, 1% R
- 4 National Assn of Realtors, $40,900,026, 47% D, 49% R
- 5 Service Employees International Union, $37,767,242, 76% D, 2% R
- 6 National Education Assn, $37,160,699, 82% D, 5% R
- 7 Goldman Sachs, $36,215,437, 60% D, 39% R
- 8 American Assn for Justice, $35,102,554, 88% D, 8% R
- 9 Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $34,514,622, 97% D, 2% R
- 10 Laborers Union, $32,189,450, 88% D, 7% R
- 11 American Federation of Teachers, $31,883,116, 90% D, 0% R
- 12 Teamsters Union, $31,438,292, 89% D, 6% R
- 13 Carpenters & Joiners Union, $31,099,258, 86% D, 9% R
- 14 Communications Workers of America, $30,306,648, 94% D, 0% R
- 15 Citigroup Inc, $28,898,827, 49% D, 49% R
- 16 American Medical Assn, $27,927,035, 40% D, 59% R
- 17 United Food & Commercial Workers Union, $27,554,308, 93% D, 0% R
- 18 United Auto Workers, $27,540,152, 98% D, 0% R
- 19 National Auto Dealers Assn, $27,212,958 32% D, 67% R
- 20 Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union, $26,964,727, 98% D, 1% R
It's pretty clear to me from the facts that corporations are not the only problem. There are many different groups of people choosing to speak and act as one in politics. It's not clear to me that we can silence the speech of people choosing to associate without risking harm to our individual liberties. We can and have limited how much money they can contribute to political campaigns, and I for one would like to see that limit reduced to $0 for all associations of people. In fact, those who know my positions know I want all donations stopped and a Federal Election Campaign used instead (see http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=47&p=4355&sid=ecb75db80472fd990616a7a67e5c2291#p4355 ).
Finally, one individual engaged in propaganda who picks and chooses his facts to support his position recently accused me of not supporting the movement simply because I included the full fact set for people's consideration. I think the idea that presentation of facts runs counter to the movement is simply absurd. We may all enjoy agreeing with one another, but if we are to make our case to the wider American public, we have to have enough integrity to check our facts. If we don't, someone else will, and we will be immediately dismissed as lacking credibility once people find we're picking and choosing our facts to support our positions. Worse, those who pick and choose their facts are just like the folks who watch Fox news then proselytize based on partial truths. The person who was doing so in favor of his position is simply the liberal form of a Rush Limbaugh fan. I don't buy partial truths from conservatives or liberals. Both are equally offensive.