It’s pretty well universally-accepted that the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for big money in politics is a terrible idea. It’s also fairly unanimously-opined that the Republican-controlled Congress is an absolute disaster. But which do the American people hate more?
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision marked a turning point in American society. For the first time, we officially acknowledged that monied interests mattered more than the majority of the population. Ultimately setting in stone that money is free speech, and those with more money are entitled to more free speech than the rest of us, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations may use as much free speech as they wish to purchase whichever candidates they want in their pockets.
While this was certainly joyous for the Koch brothers and all others who seek to pervert the political process for personal gain, a recent Bloomberg poll found that Americans aren’t quite so pleased with the results of this terrible, terrible decision. While Americans can’t agree completely that black people are people, the LGBT community deserves equal rights, whether or not a woman has the right to make decisions regarding her own body, whether poor people should have equal access to health care, or whether or not it’s butter (some just can’t believe it’s not, but it’s not), people of all political persuasions stand united in the belief that big money in politics is awful for America. Bloomberg reminds us of how it went down:
The 5-4 ruling said that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited sums in support of political causes. That decision, coupled with a lower court’s rejection of a ceiling on contributions to political groups, opened the way for the super-PACs that are expected to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2016 presidential race.
More than 80 percent of Republicans (80%), Democrats (83%), and Independents (71%) oppose Citizens United, with 80 percent overall saying it should be overturned — a unified front against billionaires’ advantage in politics that surprises experts.
“Wow. Wow. I’m stunned,” said David Strauss, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. “What it suggests is that Citizens United has become a symbol for what people perceive to be a much larger problem, which is the undue influence of wealth in politics.”
“I would have assumed that by now there would have been a more partisan context to it,” said former Federal Election Commission chairman Trevor Potter. “This one is not seen in partisan context, just with overwhelming disapproval. The reason, I think, is that most people don’t think that corporations and unions have First Amendment rights to engage in campaign activity.”
“Pollsters also asked about a handful of other Supreme Court rulings; however,Citizens United was the only decision a majority of respondents said should be overturned,” Bloomberg notes. “Rulings upholding the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, legalizing same-sex marriage, and granting women the Constitutional right to have an abortion all had significantly more support than they did opposition.”
Overall, Citizens United managed a 17 percent approval rating.
Interestingly, Americans hate Citizens United more than they do the Republican-dominated Congress. A September 13 Gallup poll revealed an 83 percent disapproval, 14 percent approval rating for the 114th. In other words, the monied elite’s ability to buy elections is even less popular than a group of people who waste millions of dollars investigating women’s health organizations over right-wing extremist propaganda videos, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, Benghazi, the fraudulent idea that the IRS unfairly targeted conservatives, Benghazi, and Benghazi.
With such bipartisan support, we must ask why this Republican-led Congress is not doing anything to help overturn the disaster that is Citizens United. After all, it’s not like their approval rating can get much worse. For more information about Citizens United, watch the following video:
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.